I glimpsed a reflection of you today in the face of a stranger suffocating my soul with memories frightened and barely breathing plagued by the spectre of how we used to be hovering in my consciousness haunting every moment how do you let go of the past when it possesses your present how do you ignore a ghost when it catches you by surprise --- bdl
Wait a Moment –
I wore short sleeves today! That may not seem a big revelation but just four days ago the high was near 20 degrees and today the thermometer almost hit 70. I’m not sure what’s going on with winter this year but it seems as confused as I am. I was lucky to find a short sleeve shirt since I packed up all my spring and summer clothes a couple of months ago. There is a saying in Tennessee; “Don’t like the weather? Wait a moment!” It certainly describes what’s happened the last few weeks with severe cold spells followed by several warm days. Who knows what the rest of the season will be like. Will we seemingly experience all the seasons in one as we have so far or is winter setting us up for what comes next? Only time will tell.
As I drove to my incarcerated father class tonight I was thinking about my short sleeve shirt and the crazy winter we’ve been experiencing. I also reflected on how seasons of life can seem this way when everything happens at once. There’s good, bad, negative, positive, neutral and it can leave us crazed, confused with our heads spinning. Life is much like the saying about the weather in Tennessee; “…wait a moment, it will change.”
Life is transition. On the surface, this can be disconcerting but there’s also comfort in knowing even the harshest of seasons will not last forever.
In the Dumps –
Today, as we were eating lunch, I heard what sounded like rain hitting the tin roof of the porch. I knew it couldn’t be rain because apparently, it doesn’t rain in Tennessee any longer (sarcasm, but it’s been a long dry fall after a long dry summer).
The noise continued so when we finished our meal Beth and I went out onto the porch to look around. We discovered that the large Oak tree over-hanging it was filled with birds, we assume migrating, who’d decided to take a break from their travels and decorate the tin with their droppings. Lovely. I yelled; “Go! Go! Go!“, clapped my hands and they dispersed only to come back around about an hour later. Sigh.
As I reflected on the bird poop, yes, you truly can reflect upon anything, I thought about how sometimes, out of the blue, life can take a dump on you. I don’t mean to be crass but not sure how to say it differently. You do your best to avoid it, seek shelter, perhaps even stop it for a brief time but in the end, you’re still covered in gunk, your life is a mess, and you’re left wondering; “What happened?”
Wisdom reminds us even bad seasons of life have a stopping point. When it’s over, you clean yourself off, look above, thankful for the clear, blue skies and keep moving forward.
Fill My Cup –
Sunday morning, heading into the sanctuary for worship, I grabbed a styrofoam cup from the coffee stand and went to a water fountain to fill it up. As I filled it with water, I was also saying; “hello” to a few people and thinking about several other things. After a while, I looked down at the cup and noticed it was only half filled. So, I kept the faucet going, felt the eyes of the person behind me waiting for me to finish, checked again and it was only half filled. I then let go of the lever to the fountain, picked up the styrofoam cup, looked at the bottom and noticed it had a big hole. The water was leaking out almost as fast as it was being put in. I emptied out the bit which was remaining and threw the cup away. I then walked down the hall to where the kitchen was located, the door was open, so I went in and grabbed a plastic cup, made my way back to the water fountain and filled up the cup with ease. I went into the sanctuary, found where my wife was sitting and stood beside her.
As we sang a chorus I wasn’t familiar with I reflected on the oft heard statement; “I hope the singing and the sermon is good this morning! My heart needs to be filled up today. I’m almost empty.” I chuckled as I thought about the first cup with the big hole. It wasn’t the fountain’s fault the cup wasn’t being filled. Maybe, instead of looking to church, concerts, special services, “good ol’ preaching,” or whatever the newest, most popular sermon series happens to be, we should check our heart for holes. This could be why we’re empty every Sunday. Too many times we look outside before inside to see what the problem may be.
Swing and Miss –
“Finger meet hammer, hammer; finger.”
Earlier today I was trying to wedge a piece of wood into a tight spot without damaging it. I grabbed another block of wood to use as a buffer from the hammer while getting the wood in place. It was slow work but working when I became distracted, the block of wood slipped, or simply poorly aimed and I whacked my thumb with the hammer. “OUCH!” I immediately dropped both the hammer, the block of wood, stepped away and took several deep breaths and tried to shake the pain away. Several hours later the finger still hurts and I’m still not sure how I managed to try to pound my digit instead of the wood.
Wisdom teaches us there are painful lessons in life. We can reflect back upon some and realize the mistakes which were made, things we could have handled differently, while other events seem to happen for no rhyme or reason. Part of living a mindful lifestyle is knowing there isn’t a lesson in every accident, difficulty or problem. The pain is real, the healing takes time and we move on wiser for knowing nothing more than sometimes things just happen.
I spoke with a man this week who seems to always be mad. His temper flares up at the slightest provocation, angry, hurtful words are used as a weapon to hurt those closest to him and many he cares for can’t stomach to be around him for very long. “If only (insert name, group of people) would/wouldn’t do (insert behavior) then I wouldn’t get so angry!” I pointed out to him that others are not the cause of his caustic personality. “You decide! What your reaction will be to things that frustrate, confuse, irritate and drive you crazy is your choice.”
Its easy to blame others, circumstances, for the hatred, loneliness, grudges, judgemental attitude we carry in our hearts. We want someone or something to be responsible for our unrealized dreams, ruptured relationships and life not being the way we desire it to be. Only when we become self aware enough to look inside of ourselves will we find the source and the cure for what ails us.
This painting, creatively placed on the side of a building, is of people having fun by the lakeside but it can only be seen properly on the reflection of the water.
I was talking with a friend this week who struggles with a positive self image, has trouble believing they are worthy of being loved, cared for, accepting empathy and affection. Because he has difficulty seeing the good in himself, when we connect I make sure to reflect back to him the strengths and value within.
There are folks in our lives who have distorted views of who they are, what they have to offer, their significance, desirability. When we encounter these hurting ones, perhaps the greatest blessing we can bestow upon them is to reflect back to them who they truly are and not who they see themselves to be.