Change Myself –
The older I get the less knowledge and wisdom I think I possess. They say the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is two-fold; fearing God and knowing you know nothing. As each year passes the second part seems to get easier.
There was a time when I believed I knew much. Not just about myself but also about others. I could perceive motives both inward and outward, judge with impunity, and thought myself better and more able to live a life pleasing to God and myself than most other people. Then, I began to grow up.
The word growing brings with it a sense of serenity but growing is painful. It is bursting through old barriers, going places that are uncomfortable and unknown, daring to die in order to live, braving the challenges and elements that surround you.
With growth comes the realization you cannot force others to change. You do not have that power. You cannot stop the world from spinning out of control. You don’t have that ability. You can’t even get past your own hurts, habits, and hangups most days. You, I, am a perfect example of imperfection.
Wisdom and knowledge. They are as different as night and day but compliment each other when embraced and allowed to exist mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact, please you.”
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
Under Control –
Last week I wrote about raking leaves and how this ongoing chore is a part of the changing of the seasons; “Leaving Tomorrow Be“ (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/10/29/leaving-tomorrow-be/).
Today I was at it again. Same sections of the yard, same rake, same music playing in my ear buds, the same piles, except different, albeit still brown, leaves. Again, similar to last week, the wind was blowing so even as I raked more leaves were falling on the ground. Still, it was therapeutic; raking and burning.
While doing the chore I thought about my week. Lots of internal changes have been occurring at work. Changes which cannot be avoided and are necessary for our team to continue helping the families and communities we serve. However, as noted by me many times on this blog before, I don’t like change. My severe anxiety disorder goes into hyperdrive when multiple changes occur in a short amount of time. My preference is rhythm, order, a familiarity, which helps bring balance to my life and peace to my mind.
As I raked the leaves today and watched more fall in their place, I was reminded that life is never controllable, never truly ordered, not actually familiar, we simply fool ourselves into thinking there is rhythm. We like to think we’ll get everything organized and under control only to stand powerlessly by as the wind blows, dropping more leaves on a briefly clean yard; a symbol that nothing in the life is ever settled, predictable and under our control.
Rest and Suffering –
Yesterday afternoon, on my way back from an out-of-town meeting, I passed a delivery truck. Its hood was up, flashers on, obviously broke down and not going anywhere. What caught my attention was the driver. He was laying down in a shady spot, one arm for a pillow and the other holding a cellphone and talking. He wasn’t nervously pacing, angrily kicking tires, yelling into the phone. If he could’ve fixed the truck I am sure he would have. If there was a way to deliver his goods he would’ve completed his goals for the day. Instead, he was resting because there wasn’t anything else to do but wait.
I struggle following this man’s example. I like rhythm, order, control. I don’t like surprises, detours, or delays. There is certainly a part of that which comes from having a Severe Anxiety Disorder. Mapping out the day so it can be more easily managed is part of my therapy. However, I also believe it’s very human to want control, to get things done in a timely manner, to feel like our lives are not always a random gathering of happenstance.
Wisdom teaches us that the distance between acceptance of what happens every moment and our expectation of what should happen every moment is where suffering is found. Knowing how to rest in the unplanned, perhaps even unwanted, experiences of life is one of the toughest and most valuable lessons we can learn.
Come Out & Play –
Ever feel life is similar to this poor Giant Panda Bear (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_panda) staff member? You’re doing everything you can to keep your life neat and orderly, to do what you need to do, and forces beyond your control are conspiring against you to keep it from happening.
Watching this video I couldn’t help but feel sorry and empathize with the zoo keeper. I’ve been there. On good days, when my Clinical Depression and Severe Anxiety are kept at bay, I’m able to accomplish what I set my mind to do. However, on those days when my D&A decide to run wild it takes everything I’ve got to get the simplest project done or task completed.
Those days when Depression and Anxiety; “come out to play” and wreak havoc I do my best to remember tomorrow, or some day soon, they’ll stay away long enough for life to regain a semblance of order and serenity.
#EndtheStigma of #MentalHealth
A starry night thousands of years ago. The fire cracks, the smell of smoke in the air, an elder stirs the flames with a stick watching his young audience as they sit anticipating the stories that always accompany these times. The story teller looks them over, clears his throat, looks them each in the eye and begins…
“When on high heaven was not named, And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name, And the primeval Apsû, who begat them, And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both, Their waters were mingled together, And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen; When of the gods none had been called into being The epic names two primeval gods: Apsu, the fresh water, and Tiamat, the salt water.
Several other gods are created (Ea and his brothers) who reside in Tiamat’s vast body. They make so much noise that it annoys Tiamat and Apsu greatly. Apsu wishes to kill the young gods, but Tiamat disagrees. The vizier, Mummu, agrees with Apsu’s plan to destroy them. Tiamat, to stop this from occurring, tells Ea (Nudimmud), at the time the most powerful of the gods, who, using magic, puts Apsu into a coma and kills him, and shuts Mummu out. Ea then becomes the chief god, and along with his consort Damkina, has a son, Marduk, greater still than himself.
Marduk is given wind to play with and he uses it to make dust storms and tornadoes. This disrupts Tiamat’s great body and causes the gods still residing inside her to be unable to sleep. They persuade Tiamat to take revenge for the death of her husband. Her power grows, and some of the gods join her. She creates 11 monsters to help her win the battle and elevates Kingu, her new husband, to “supreme dominion.”
Ultimately, Marduk is selected as champion against Tiamat, and becomes very powerful. He defeats and kills Tiamat, and forms the universe from her corpse. The gods confer kingship on Marduk, hailing him with fifty names.”
This is a rival story of creation told by the ancient Babylonians. It reflects their idea of how humankind began. The Earth, humanity, was created, not by a loving god but from the corpse of a dead god who was slain in the chaos of battle.
Another creation story told by other wise elders to their children and children’s children…
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be……and God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
The creation story found in Genesis is not the oldest of creation stories and found its most complete form while the people of God were in captivity in…you guessed it, Babylon. They needed to know if This chaotic god of the Babylonians, this warrior god who beat down these other gods, was now in charge?
So the Hebrews told their creation story to their children. There are many differences in the two creation stories but the resounding one is that even though we are slaves, captives, victims. When looking around all we see is chaos and defeat. Always remember that our God never vied for power, never battled for control, there is no chaos within God and with just his words he can bring order, new life, balance, an end to the storm.
The chaos of our world and life at times can be a hurricane whipping and turning, tossing and fighting. It is not easy to remember that order and balance exist. When chaos comes, tearing up our world we ask “is the storm all there is…? Does it make a difference if there is balance and order when life is blowing, battering, battling and beating me down?”
Yes, it does make a difference and the difference is all the difference.
peace and grace