Thursday, January 13, 2011

In perspective

Beve didn't go to school yesterday.  It was called due to snow.  Alleged snow, I should say, since the inches and inches that had fallen over night began to melt before he got out of bed for good at 7 AM.  By the time we were out and about running errands it was wet and raining here in the 'ham, and we were trading joke texts with friends about the cancelling of school because of rain.  Ridiculous, really, though I did enjoy having the day with Beve, especially since there were two separate medical appointments for the elders at two opposite ends of town.  Here, without delay, are our two favorite moments from those appointments:  Thyrza, sitting in her wheelchair at the eye doctor (where the doctor called her "eagle eyes", making us certain once again that she just couldn't bear that Grampie has been having all this attention on his eyes so wanted her own appointment!), she began shuffling in her purse before we left the building.  "What are you looking for?"  "My glasses," she said, with her glasses perched firmly on her face.  And Grampie, who'd been sleeping in the car while we gave him a tour of Fairhaven and Edgemore during Thyrza's appointment, asked, "Where's Thyrza, at the pain clinic?"  Yep, we live in a constant state of confusion.

But that's small potatoes, if you know what I mean.  In the northeast, there's a blizzard.  In Australia, a flood the size of Texas slowly covers a province, including the third largest city.  In Arizona, people are reeling from the assassination attempt last weekend.  Across the world, people are dealing with matters which put our small concerns into perspective.  Matters of life and death, and I'm not using hyperbole when I write that.  I forget this.  I get caught up in the issues at hand, in the daily struggles I face with my kids, or my elders (who become more and more like kids every day!), with the challenges of my own puny body, and think that I have life pretty rough.  And that is where I begin exaggerating and worrying over peanuts.  Actually, if you want the truth, it sometimes makes me crazy that the elders, who have lived their four-score-and-seven and then some, worry so much about their health.  Cling to this life with their fingertips gripping until their fingers are white and their jaws clenched.  I mean, life on this earth will end.  Running off to the doctor every other day will not keep it from happening.  I realize how cynical I sound to say that, but in light of the real struggles of life and death and war and hatred and enmity that occur daily in this world, ones that take the young and younger, I just think perhaps at 92, it might be time to loosen one's grip and relax.  Enjoy the last days and be glad for every moment.

But what do I know?  I'm a long ways from there.  Perhaps when I get there--if I get there-- I'll be holding on to my things and my life with equal firmness.  In fact, perhaps the only vigor left at that age will be the vigor with which I hold on.  But I hope not.  I hope that I go out graciously.  Thankfully and lightly.  Lifting my hands away from my life, recognizing the transitory nature of all these 'things' and the even more transitory nature of my own body.

Shoot, why do I think I have to wait until I'm in the sunset of my days to have that attitude?  The reality is--the ultimate, cosmic reality--is that the earth is the Lord's and all there in.  And sadly, we humans have used it like it is ours, destroyed it like there was another one coming on the next ship.  Frankly, in the last century, we've treated it more like garbage than in all its history before, and now we're shocked and hurt that things are going wrong on it.  That God is allowing our ill-use to have an effect.  I'm not really sure if we're stubborn, a little like the elders, who don't admit death is coming and try to keep a dying body from decaying, or if we're just plain stupid, like chickens without their heads, as we destroy the world God gave us to govern and enjoy.

This world--like our lives--will end.  But that's not the end of the story.  He tells us He will give us new bodies.  And a new heaven and a new earth.  These are promises to stand on.  And, I pray, they help us keep things in balance when we want to take ourselves and our small concerns, our small lives, too seriously.

"At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised,"Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."  The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."  Hebrews 12: 26-29

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