One of the benefits of being laid up with a broken hip is being able to sit here and watch my little corner of this world. Each morning I see people go by, walking their dogs, cycling to Oak Grove, or waiting for the bus. There is the young boy riding his bike wearing a bright, lime-green florescent helmet, his small legs pumping fiercely as he pedals his way to school, followed closely behind by his dad on his own bike, making sure that the youngster arrives okay. A young couple walk their newborn looking like any other new parents filled with both hope and anxiety. Across the street, there is a Muslim family who when it’s time to leave the house the women are decked out in colorful garb wearing their hijab as they go to the mosque for worship. A couple of young women waiting for the bus are able to hold hands and show affection no longer feeling stigmatized or outcasts any longer. Old and young I have watched them all parade by my home, each one living their life, each one taking their place. William Shakespeare once said; “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” It is an often used quote but one that I sometimes find a bit disheartening. By being merely players I hear that we are all part of a larger script, already written long before our entrance. The part is set, the lines are given and all we need to do is step out onto our mark, say our lines and then exit stage right. I like to think that all the worlds more like improv comedy where we are given the scenario and then have to come up with the lines that make the most sense and most times failing miserably, but continuing anyway. We are not puppets in some gigantic Punch and Judy show, although at times it may feel like that. We are living, breathing and hopefully, thinking entities that do more than just play a role but can and do make an impact while we are here.
As I watch all of these people pass by I begin to wonder what their story is, what are their hopes and dreams. I also have had that rare opportunity to really reflect and consider my own hopes and dreams, not only as a priest, but also as a husband, father and grandfather, each role requiring its own unique improvisation. Life is fleeting and precious and as I discovered, it is also very fragile. Death awaits us all but that need not keep us from being fully engaged with those whom we care for and love in the here and now. Some who read this may think I’m being either a bit morbid or morose, neither is the case, it’s all grist for the mill, a potpourri of thoughts and ideas that make up the imaginative world that lies within my head and now yearns to break out.
I kind of think that writing is allowing these thoughts and ideas to be vomited out onto the page where it can be fully examined, not only by the writer but also the reader. It’s not perfect, just like life, but it is possibly the truest reflection of a self looking in a mirror and seeing it’s real image.