God’s Gift of the Present

Time flies, once you are young, filled with ambition and desire, hopes and dreams then suddenly your staring in the mirror at an aged face, worn down by the years. What have I accomplished, what are my crowning achievements? We ask those kind of questions especially when mortality stares us in the face. Is there more? I know I certainly hope for more, more time with loved ones, more space to create and write, more to see and do. The world rushes headlong into its future, not paying attention to the road being taken and then wondering how did we ever get so blindsided. It’s simple, we are so focused on the future that we forget about the present and by the time we do, well, we are lying in great weakness left wondering.

Since passing the age of 65, I have been giving a lot of thought as to where my life will take me. I cannot last forever, there is no portrait of me hanging in some darkened Gothic basement where the image grows older while I stay young. No, when I look in the mirror, I see the age lines, the bags under my eyes, the loss of shine in the eyes. Although this happens, it does not mean that I just lay back and surrender to the inevitability of the aging process. In my occupation, I have seen way too many folks do just that, give up. When the road gets tough, when one is stuck in mud season with tires spinning yet going no where, it’s easy to just quit. The fires of passion are quenched by the realities of the choices we have made. The saying is so true, “we made our bed and now we need to lie in it,” what so many want is for another to come along and remake that bed.

Not one of us is perfect. Sure, we run into the occasional perfect person, with the perfect spouse, perfect kids, perfect job and the perfect, well manicured lawn in front of the perfect well maintained home. Yet, if one just scratches the surface we find that most of that perfection is an illusion, that underneath the finely made up personality lies someone struggling against the greater tide. The addictive lifestyle is not just about drugs, alcohol, or sex, the addictive lifestyle also includes our ego, the picture we present as we walk out into the world. Self confidence, the ability to out debate others, creating our own little island where we rule our emotions, feelings and humanity, is soon revealed to be nothing more than a sand bar quickly washed away when the hurricane arrives.

Robert Farrar Capon wrote "Our greatest temptation is to think that it is by further, better, and more aggressive living that we can have life.” I have witnessed those who have sought out a better life by doing just that, trying to live more aggressively, stepping over any and all that get in the way, is somehow that magical highway to heaven. My own attempts at trying to be a bit more aggressive, a bit more out there have usually ended up looking more like a train wreck than a success. What I keep returning to, over and over, is my own faith. In prayers where I seek, not riches or fame, but where I pray that my eyes will be opened, my heart will be filled and my soul will find peace. Sure, I get jealous. Jealous of those who write better, who are better poets, who are better preachers and priests, than I could ever be or attain to. At times I wonder why God never gave me those gifts, why was I left off of the list, then again, as I look back there have been plenty of times where I have squandered my opportunities. That, unfortunately is true for so many of us. If we sat down in a quiet place, turned off the computers, the cell phones, got away from Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and took our own moral inventory, we would all see moments when we were not at our best. Moments when we made a decision that looked good at the time only to regret it much later, then turn around and blaming someone else for our misfortune.

Time certainly does fly by, sometimes at supersonic speed, but that does not mean we need be trapped in its wake. Moments of grace abound, the colors of the world are just as bright and love, that mystery of mysteries, carries us along. The Psalmist writes; “If I climb to heaven, you are there * if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.” God’s ever present love and grace, in our life and death, always.

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City Life

Yes, it’s noisy and infested
filled with dark, dingy abodes
streets littered with cast-offs
both inert and organic.

A place of despair for some
of light and delight for others
this is the city
crowded, unkempt, dangerous
a kaleidoscope of sound and color
overwhelming the innocent
enticing the adventurous
boring the dwellers within.

The city, bears it all
under the strains of the masses
that hurtle down its streets
walking through its alleys
with heads down
pushing against
tides of indifference.

The city takes,
the city gives
we are its children
and its future
we carry its fortunes
in our valises
sharing our dreams
waiting for the sun to rise
and for hearts to sing.

A Warm Spring Day in Winter

The warm sun shone on the trees

old Mr. Possum lying in the branches

as the woodpecker taps away

and squirrels dig up our crocus bulbs

to be replanted elsewhere.

In the bushes and branches birds chatter

carrying bits of grass and straw 

building nests preparing their homes.

I watch this miracle unfold

sitting out on a warm day

just listening to the sounds all around,

what some would say is a waste of time.

The joyfulness of life as trees begin to bud

and daffodils peak through the ground

searching for the suns golden rays.

That old possum begins to stir

maybe it’s the noise of the day

after all he is nocturnal 

and not much of a daytime animal.

So he stretches himself out

as he painstakingly begins to move

not rushing, like the birds or squirrels,

he takes his time, 

savoring the moment

as if he knows that this will not last long

that this unusual warm, winter day

will vanish with the cold north wind.

But for now his lesson is clear

a reminder to me to take my ease

to enjoy those moments of peace

not rushing from place to place

but just to sit and be at peace

letting the warm sun shine on my face

to linger over a cup of coffee

while gazing up at the blue sky

Church Fair

I sit here listening to the copier 

relentlessly working

piece by piece the sheets fly out

while in the background 

there is the bustling of people

bringing in their oblations

of decorated trees 

baskets filled with their sacrament

to be bought and sold

to a people lost

all the while

prayers go up into the air

as Emmanuel approaches

reminding us that this temple

is not about silver and gold

but a place for prayer

in the darkening days

as we seek salvation

from the busyness we create

hiding from our own failings

in the glitter and bright lights

of seasons too short

awaiting love’s arrival

opening closed hearts.

As Summer Ends

Summer begins 

its slow descent,

the sun rises later,

the sun sets earlier,

as days shorten,

announcing 

the worlds change.

We spin around,

through the moments,

life’s challenges,

waxing and waning,

pruning and growing.

Time marching,

the drumbeat,

loud in our ears,

moving ever forward,

leaving behind,

dead dreams,

birthing new dreams.