Beth and I were talking over the weekend about perspective. It amazes me as I get older the more control I lose and the greater perspective I gain. Whether it’s a few moments, days, months or years, our lives, which we like to plan, can come undone.
The world has never been predictable. I was speaking with a friend the other day about the instability which surrounds us. Our political systems, family and community systems, even our environment seems to be spinning out of control. Nothing, if it ever was, is normal nor inevitable.
Last night I read a quote from Eugene Peterson, a pastor, writer, and scholar. He writes;
“The whole of the spiritual life is learning to die.”
This quote resonated with my spirit and experiences over the last several years. Dying takes many forms. Death of all things is a given but we seem to organize our lives as if we might be the ones to escape the fate of everyone else. Death is not a negative word if you’ve learned to die. If you do not hold on treasures and trinkets, live each day as if it’s your last; being kind, grace-filled and loving, never putting off to an uncertain tomorrow what can be done now, in the present moment.
We are but sojourners on this path called life. We are not meant nor built to last for long. With this perspective; how we choose to be today could be how our transient life is remembered tomorrow.
A friend and I were discussing the wisdom proverb; “In each rain drop the universe is contained in full.”
As with most wisdom sayings, there are many interpretations but we focused on the truth that in each moment all of life is contained. When we try to grab for more it’s like grasping water, nothing is there.
We prefer a life which is predictable. Things to be, and stay, normal. However, what we are after is control. We try to make life stay much the same as it was in the past if we’ve been relatively satisfied.
We’d prefer not to dwell on the truth that life can change in an instant and never be “normal“, the same, again. We don’t like the idea of unemployment, sickness, death, other stresses, tragedies and heartache may be what the next moment holds.
We’d rather ignore this insight and live in oblivion until life ceases to grant us this illusion. This moment is ours, nothing more is promised, nothing more need be if we treasure our only possession; now.
Beth and I stopped by Lowe’s Home Improvement store on the way home from church today. One of the items on our list was a gallon of paint. We found the right brand and then went to the kiosk where they mixed in color. There was a line of three people and one woman working as hard and fast as she could. After a while it was our turn and as we walked up to the counter a man came up to the counter, got the employee’s attention and proceeded to have his order filled. I was frustrated. He had cut in line while the rest of us had waited our turn. Seemingly without noticing or caring he had his paint mixed and then left.
After we finished and checked out, I asked Beth; “Was he in line before and I hadn’t noticed?” “Nope.” she said but in a way that told me she had moved on and was in the present while I was still reliving the past. “Well,’ I said, ‘no big deal.” and following my wife’s example I moved on as well.
In this life we will face injustices and inconveniences. Injustices are worth fighting against for they impact past, present and future. Inconveniences, however, are just distractions that take our distort our focus and blind us to the now, the present, where life happens.
Brian Loging (Twitter)
Patience is… –
A few moments ago I was standing in a long line at a store, waiting patiently while a young man, who didn’t seem thrilled to be working on a Saturday evening, checked out the plenteous people in front of me. I glanced around and noticed none of the other registers were open so I took a few deep breaths, thought about my day, and practiced stoicism in the face of this minor irritation in the grand scheme of things.
Finally, I was next in line as an elderly woman checked out and, for some reason, her check card wasn’t working. As she was finishing up another employee walked up to the front and said; “Register two is now open!” and the people behind me took advantage. I shook my head and thought; “This is my life, summed up in one experience.”
They say if you pray for patience you will receive temptations, trials, and travails. Patience has never been one of my virtues. Part of it is my anxiety disorder which propels me to always be thinking, moving or a combination of both. However, I am also a product of our “got to have it immediately!” culture. To wait is an offense to our too busy lives. We long to escape our hectic, event-filled, crazy, chaotic lives, but how?
I stand in a line, take a few more deep breaths and remember life is made up of these moments we call; “Now.”
Last night I took the dogs out for their last opportunity to do some business for the day. I was about to release them when a shadow caught my eye, then another. I grabbed both dog’s leashes and strained to see what was running through the yard. I couldn’t quite tell but it was either stray dogs or coyotes. I kept the dogs close to me to be on the safe side. This morning, when I let the dogs out again, our Siberian Husky began chasing scents all over the area where the other animals had been. He was so preoccupied with tracking the shadow’s trail he forgot to do what needed to be done.
I watched him dart to and fro and thought how sometimes we are like my crazy dog. We chase after shadows of the unknown, things that scare us or bring confusion and doubt. We allow these distractions to take our focus away from the present and from our purpose.
Don’t dwell in the past or be obsessed with the future. Live in the now.