Project: Never Ending –
Today my wife and I hung the screen doors on our “never-ending project” we also call the porch. The doors made it look more completed and the end is in sight! However, we’ve said that before and then life gets in the way. Too many things to mention are more important than the project and we’ve set it aside several times to go and help others or have accepted the help of others during the past couple of years. When we finished hanging them we stepped back to the driveway and admired our work. Not perfect but not bad.
Wisdom teaches us that our lives may be never-ending projects but not in the same way as the porch. Those looking for truth accept that we will never stop learning, growing, if wisdom is what we seek. There will be breaks in between. Times when we need to accept our place on the path and rest. Other seasons where we focus our energies elsewhere by helping our family, neighbors, community, nation, and the world.
Finding balance is the key to grow, not at the expense of others, but with them.
Storms Pass By –
I stood on my porch a few moments ago watching the skies turn gray and the wind blow. I had received a weather warning earlier that thunderstorms were headed our way. I was excited because we need the rain. It was a wet late winter and early spring but it has been dry lately. However, the wind picked up and the skies became darker but no rain. Now it is sunny outside. More waiting and hand watering our plants and trees this evening.
Interesting how life works. There are actually storms we hope for and need and those from which we seek respite. I read an article this afternoon about “Introversion Hangovers.” These occur when an introvert becomes overstimulated by too much time around extroverts, events, experiences. Afterward, they require a time of recuperation. Introverts need a quiet, space and the opportunity to rest. For me, this subdue weekend has been that after a busy past couple of weeks. I am thankful the rhythm of life can, hopefully, get back to normal.
Storms come and go, impact us or miss us all together. Wherever we find ourselves may we also find peace.
Sounds Like –
Twenty years ago this week an F3 tornado tore through downtown Nashville, Tennessee (http://www.wkrn.com/news/f-3-tornado-hit-nashville-20-years-ago_20180416214213/1126239206) We weren’t living in Tennessee at that time but we happened to be in Nashville chaperoning hundreds of teenagers at an annual talent and skills competition on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University. When the announcement came down that all were supposed to seek shelter several of us ran to the different ball fields, tennis courts and other places where events were being held. Making sure to get everyone we saw to safety without a lot of chit-chat was important, however, one young teenage girl stopped and with fear in her eyes and voice asked me if we were in the path of the tornado? Guiding her inside as I answered; “I don’t know.” “How will we know?” she inquired. Not being a meteorologist I repeated what I once had been told; “A tornado sounds like a train!” Unbeknownst to my inquisitor, there was a set of railroad tracks behind the campus of Trevecca. At the exact time, I told her a tornado sounded like a train a train going past the school sounded its horn. “I hear the tornado! I hear the tornado!” I peered into her fear brimmed eyes, smiled and said; “Sweetie, tornadoes may sound like trains but they don’t come equipped with horns.” I got her with the rest of the students in a basement, shut the door and stood outside watching, listening for the tornado and laughing, thankful that even in this storm of chaos a light of joy can shine through.
Ongoing Grace –
One of the hardest acts in life is letting go of the expectation of an apology from someone who has hurt, offended us. Many times, we never receive what we are tempted to think we deserve.
Not too long ago I received a surprising apology from someone who had hurt me years ago. They asked for forgiveness and I gave it to them. However, apologies can be tricky. When someone expresses regret about an action or harmful words our ability to forgive has much to do with our place on the journey of forgiveness. Saying the words; “I forgive you.” helps but rarely completely, instantly heals the wounds.
Since the apology, there have been moments of pain when I am reminded the wounds are still healing. Times when memories are relived and the urge to fall back into negative thoughts patterns, judgmental attitudes are present. It is here, on our journey, we realize forgiveness is not a one-time act or phrase but a process, an ongoing combination of acts, words, and intent of spirit. There are seasons, moments, instances when the past impresses itself on the present. Wisdom teaches us not to ignore, resent, or seek escape but to let it be a reminder that forgiveness in an ongoing act of grace.
Last week was the first time I had heard the words; “Pokemon” and “Go” together. A couple of folks in the office were talking about it and I was listening trying to figure out what they were saying, describing and deriving so much joy and interest. Like a newbie, I asked several questions but still didn’t understand the concept. Little did I know this conversation would be the beginning of an information immersion into this app game for a cellphone I would receive over the last several days. I’ve heard about it on the news, podcasts, social media and more. I’ve seen pictures of people, phone up to their faces, meandering around, running to areas where “creatures?” can be found and trying to “catch” them.
Reflecting on this latest phenomenon I am reminded how each of us have goals we pursue. We seek the elusive, the valuable, the treasured, the thing that will bring contentment and meaning into our lives. However, unless we are pursuing the truth each goal we grasp only leaves us unfulfilled and a new goal appears with further promises of purpose and peace. If we’re not careful we can spend our lives chasing, finding and capturing that which will not satisfy.
“Truth is easy to understand once it is discovered; the point is to discover it.”
I was speaking with a friend this week who’s struggling with three things; judgmental thoughts, judgmental words and judgmental actions. The latter follow the first and are causing difficulties with people he holds dear. “I don’t want to speak harshly and condemningly to those I love but I can’t seem to stop the thoughts from expressing themselves.” He sighed. “What if your thoughts weren’t real?” I asked him. “What if your thoughts were just clouds of words floating through your mind and have no substance? What if they didn’t define your reality and only became form and influence when you plucked them out of the sky of your mind and made them into tangible words or actions?” While he considered this I quoted to him one of my favorite wisdom sayings from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.”
When we judge others, even only in our minds, we are forcing our limited understanding of what’s real, normal, acceptable onto their limited understanding of the same. When we label someone as lacking we’ve actually judged ourselves. We show our minds, emotions and wisdom to be lacking.
Thoughts are meant to be considered, reflected upon, examined in broad and focused ways. We are to seek to understand and then be understood. When judgement fills our minds, hearts and spirits there’s no more room for wisdom, compassion, relationship.
Yesterday my brain went away. I’m not sure where it went but it definitely left my body for a while.
I had retrieved the keys to the riding lawn mower and was going place them with it for my friend who was taking the mower to be serviced. I then headed out the front door when I realized I should put on a jacket. Accomplished; I was about to lock the front door when it dawned on me that I didn’t have the lawn mower keys. I looked on the table by the door, retraced my steps, checked my pants and jacket pockets, searched in places I hadn’t been… Still no keys! “Keys can’t disappear!” I told myself, “they have to be here somewhere!” Again and again, over and over, I looked, searched but nothing. Exasperated I happened to glance down at my shirt and noticed the keys were in my front shirt pocket. Shaking my head and laughing at myself, I humbly and embarassingly locked the front door and went on with my day.
The whole incident reminded me of great wisdom truth; “That which we seek, we already possess, we must simply understand and receive.”