This morning at church the reverend closed the service by asking people to come to down to the front altar and pray for a woman who was leaving with a team of people to go to Africa on a mission trip. She knelt and many of the people in attendance gathered around her. As someone began to pray I heard a sound; “Clank. Silence. Clank. Silence.” I looked up and saw an elderly woman moving towards the group using a walker. By the time she made it up to the front, they were almost finished with the prayer but that didn’t seem to matter. What mattered was she wanted to be a part of the group, show her support, be closer to the one who was leaving, because she cared and caring most often requires our presence.
As she struggled I reflected on this woman and her concern for the other overcoming her condition. The world as we know it seems to be coming apart at the seams. Institutions, foundations, and truths we thought would last forever are crumbling before our eyes. What do we do? How do we stop it or at least stem the tide? I think we should do as the woman did this morning. We recognize our weakness, our lack of power and control, but still run, walk, crawl, towards a need and be present, change what we can by getting closer. When things are too big, too unruly, too far gone, it’s easier to stay where we are, shrug our shoulders and say; “There wasn’t anything we could’ve done.” or we can get “some “skin in the game.” We can try. We can put forth the effort with an attitude that only those who show up can make a difference.
This afternoon I stopped by a store to run in and grab a few items. When I parked there was a man sitting in his car and as I pulled into a spot he was staring at me. I gave him a head nod and didn’t think much of it As I gathered my things and exited the truck I looked again and he was no longer visible because his, I am assuming, girlfriend was bending sideways across the center console “appreciating him.” She was kissing him and whatever else because I averted my eyes not wanting to see anything that would burn an image in my brain! I went into the store came out a few minutes later and was hoping the car had gone but alas it was still there. Most of the windows were fogged up except the driver’s window and the driver was smoking a cigarette. I looked at my keys, hopped in the truck and drove away, quickly.
Intimacy is one of the greatest emotions and connections humans can share. Lust, on the other hand, is hormonal, selfish, addicting, and satisfied in ways which can hurt others. Our world is filled with lust. Lust for power, fame, money, reputation, knowledge can all be subjects of our lust if they are used only for our selfish purposes. True intimacy is also powerful but the opposite of lust. Lasting intimacy is giving ourselves to another. We have intimacy when we decide to put the other one first, serve the other. In a world where lust burns quickly, brightly, we need those who would rather do a slow burn which lasts a lifetime.
This morning my family gathered together to write my father’s obituary and order of service for his memorial. After a while, we took a break and I walked outside with my niece and spotted a huge Sycamore leaf. It was the biggest one at first we could see and then it became a competition on who could find the largest one of all. We searched a long time and when we were convinced we had discovered the most sizeable one we began looking for the smallest one. This was harder because we had to look under, beside and move other leaves to find the smallest. Finally, we believed we had the tiniest Sycamore leaf in the yard.
It was another busy day with people visiting, numerous phone calls, memorial service being organized, visiting the florist, and other errands. In the hustle and bustle of things, a family must do when one they love has passed it’s hard to find the peace one desires. The big things, the things which must get done are easy to find, it’s the small things; the glimpses of hope, the good memories, times when the good of a life well-lived shines in the darkness of a loved one parting.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Saint John, chapter 1
Walking Forward Glancing Back –
This morning, between two lectures at a rehabilitation center, I ran a few errands. Pulling out of a parking lot I took a look at the time and realized I didn’t have long before I needed to be at my next appointment. As I pulled out of the parking lot an elderly couple was walking hand in hand towards their vehicle. They weren’t in a hurry, weren’t glancing at watches, didn’t seem to have anywhere else to go, content just being together.
I watched them and smiled. I thought about how quickly life has passed before them. I reflected on similar subjects Beth and I talk about. We make noises when we get up and sit down. A quiet night at home is a Godsend. We fall asleep on the couch before nine at night and we’re only forty-five! We are amazed at the people we know and the life milestones they pass. We think about teenagers we were blessed to share our lives with and how now they’re parents with little ones of their own. We are humbled by how quickly the years pass and saddened at how many folks we’ve loved and lost already.
Sitting in my truck, watching this couple, I was reminded it’s not the hastily gathered things of life which last. What has real meaning, what endures, what is truly valuable and worth our life’s investment are those things which take lifetimes to build, are never taken for granted and are appreciated glancing back over our shoulders as we walk forward.