Surfing or Drowning –
I just finished reading an article from seven years ago today about a father and son who were killed by a drunk driver. The mom shared it on social media and the heartache is still present and the wound raw. I can’t imagine the pain. I knew the father a little. He was in our church’s youth group. He was a few years older than me but always seemed cool. He was an athlete. He ran, biked, swam, and surfed. The morning dad and son were killed they were training for a triathlon. The father was named after his father and the son carried on the tradition. He was the III.
How do you have hope in the midst of such loss? How do you not drown in sorrow? How do you not get lost in such darkness? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Quips and quotes don’t begin to address the brokenness and reveal our lack of intimacy with death. We do everything we can to avoid it. Most of us try to prolong our lives by any means necessary. When death finally does come we are quick to make the arrangements, organize a memorial or funeral service and push past it as fast as possible. But even then, death finds a way to corner us, trap us, confront us. After the hustle and bustle of meals, flowers, sympathy cards, and services we find ourselves alone when death, misery, mourning, comes calling.
Experts tell us that when we are caught in a riptide to not fight the current or it will surely drown its victim. Let it grab you and then slowly, moving parallel to the shore, slip from its grip. I think this is how we deal with the loss of those we love. There’s no escaping and fighting and refusing to acknowledge its power end in certain defeat. To allow it take hold, scare us, shake our faith, sweep our “normal” life away, but not giving up is the key. Slowly our strength returns, we regain our bearings, we slip from its grip, rise above the waters and live.
The River –
“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”
One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.
The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.
I was speaking with someone the other day about personalities, quirks, how people behave, why and how we label someone as “__________” and then put them in the cupboards of our mind as if who and what they are have been discovered.
I once interviewed for a job and part of the process was taking a personality test. The label put on me by the test seemed to fit but the more I looked at who I was, the more it seemed not applicable. What’s interesting was the interviewee gave me the job and told me his personality type. However, the longer I worked under him the more certain I became that he had mislabeled himself. Perhaps neither of us were correct but it cemented in my mind how we can label others or ourselves and think the labels tell us more than what only true connection and relationships reveal.
The person I was talking with earlier this week had placed a label on himself long ago and assumed it was a negative trait. I explained to him that most of our traits are neutral and mean a certain way we think or do things. “Don’t let a label define who you are or what you become,” I told him.
Good advice for us all.
Have you ever had someone talk about their funeral with you? I have many times. It’s surreal and humbling all at once.
We spend our lives chasing things which will pass, change, not stay or fulfill us. We ignore death as if that will somehow postpone its inevitability. However, when death becomes a reality and we see life for what it is; most an illusory, transient and brief journey our vision of ourselves and the world changes.
For some, there is anger that they cannot stave off death, it will not leave them alone. They are frustrated by their lack of control over the greatest danger to their destiny and existence.
Others, those who’ve accepted death and have made peace with their limited time in this physical realm have a unique way about them. Their transience doesn’t make them less caring but more empathetic and kind. Knowing each breath could be their last they don’t want it to be used taking but giving, not insulting but praising, not knocking down but lifting up, not selfish but selfless.
Death, the ultimate equalizer, and character revealer.
“You never know where the leaks are until it rains.” #BrianLoging
This morning I awoke to a downpour happening outside. It was raining so hard that when I took the dog out I stood under the overhang while telling him; “Go for it!” (I know, bad owner.)
In the back of our little farmhouse, there is a breezeway which connects to a pumphouse. At one it time did not have a roof. Somewhere, in the life of the house, an owner attempted to put a homemade roof over the breezeway and let’s just say it hasn’t held up. It can handle quick showers and light rain but heavy downpours and it leaks in certain spots. I know where most of the leaks are so I am sure not to put anything on the floor under that area so it won’t get wet.
The remodeling of our bathroom continues and this week the men delivered the tiles which they stacked in the breezeway. This morning I heard a splashing sound and looked out into the breezeway and all the boxes were wet from the passing storm. We called our remodel guy and he assured us it wasn’t a big deal which was a relief. However, this was only one part of our concern. There is a new, major, leak on the breezeway and we’re going to have to figure out what to do with this section of roof.
It’s a pain to be sure but if it had never rained we wouldn’t be aware of the problem. Now we have to figure out how to fix it. There are times and seasons of life when the rain pours into our lives revealing leaks and weak spots. Wisdom tells us we can be upset at the storm or see it as an opportunity to become more aware of ourselves, who we really are, the places which need attention and do something about it.