Bird Droppings January 15, 2021
LIFE and FINALITY
Morning has been a special time for me each day, a new beginning. Several aspects make it special, first one of going about taking pictures of sunrises. Then I go to my writing and reading which has become my meditation for the day. On some days I go to Physical Therapy for my old joints. It has become in many ways a significant part of each of my days. I walked out this morning and felt the chill but the clouds had diminished and the nearly full moon was setting in the west. I looked out across the meadow and the big dipper was rising above the trees and the stars were crystal clear in the morning darkness through the pines and oaks.
“Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.” Cathy Better
Several years ago, as I left my room after classes and went through the guidance office saying hello to several people. I was checking up on files and paperwork and I saw a person was missing I noticed and never questioned as the day went on. I sensed an absence yet still had not questioned. As the day ended I heard over the announcements one of the staff members had suffered a heart attack during a stress test and was having surgery that day.
“It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.” Evangeline Cory Booth
Yesterday as I went to get the mail one of our neighbors was walking her dogs. We said hello and she asked if I knew what was going on down the street. She had seen a coroner’s van there a day or two ago. I really do not keep very good tabs on my neighbors and had no information. She then informed me her husband had passed away two weeks before. Again, I did not know other than seeing many cars at their house back around that time. All added to my most recent turmoil over finality. As I get older and with each new creak in a joint or muscle weakness old age sets in. I have been poked and prodded that past couple weeks at first my family practice thought pneumonia and after ruling that out I am now on a heart issue. I am sitting here writing waiting on lab results.
“Your life and my life flow into each other as waves flow into waves, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality–not as we expect it to be but as it is–is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.” Frederick Buechner
Last night I sat down thinking and trying to put down words and pictures that may have significance to a project I am working on for my research. It was hard getting to work after eating dinner and lounging for a few minutes. I emailed several people last night just touching base although my iPhone was ready to call it a day.
“If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.” Albert Camus
“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle
As I moved through the week sensing something was amiss and even after knowing it is difficult to offer from a distance any sort of comfort. Most people in today’s monastic world never missed a stride there I am sure were a few tears from friends and those that they knew but all in all the day went on as normal. It seems we all are creatures of habit and our routines kick in and sort of lead us through the day.
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot
I have used this quote so many times and each time it seems appropriate. I remember as a child chasing fireflies across a meadow gathering those life forces in a mason jar to light my room and then releasing into the night watching them float away in the darkness. That time seem an eternity ago on a hill in Pennsylvania.
“It’s not how long life is but the quality of our life that is important.” Roger Dawson
“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” Charles Dickens
Often as my week progresses and days roll by I wander back thinking of reasons why and always end up thinking of my younger brother. In 1996 my brother passed away and my family was faced with a new beginning. We all had literally built our lives around my little brother. He was severely disabled and our being in Georgia was directly related to him. As we celebrated his life reviewing the intricate webs that were laid each moment and people touched and lives affected what seemingly had been was now an enormous out pouring of life.
“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outer results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sitting here among my books and artifacts I know we each approach the morning in a different way. I embrace the day and begin with my writing seeing each moment then unfold. Since 1996 I have taken many different roads and journeys and as I look back each has had meaning and direction and led me to the moment of now.
“Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler
It has been several years since I received an urgent call from my nephew. We had gone to an away football game up in North Georgia and actually were out of cellular range for some time. The call was about a friend that had been in a car accident and as that day unfolded I spent the night in the Athens Hospital holding a young man’s hand as monitors beeped and droned and he lay unmoving. I sat watching banks of meters, gauges and dials. I was hoping that the numbers on the dials would change. Throughout the night nothing indicated brain wave activity and by morning our dear friend was pronounced dead. When I arrived home on my computer was this quote from an Aerosmith song. Seems I come back to that note ever so often in my writings. In 1968 as I left for Texas for college I received a book from my parents that I still have on my shelf, it was a Bible and on page 596 a verse that has stuck with me.
“To everything there is season, and a time, to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Many years ago, Pete Seeger a folk singer and environmentalist wrote music for the words and a song was born “Turn Turn Turn”. To every season turn, turn, turn there is a reason turn, turn, turn and a time for every purpose under heaven. The song became a hit, and was sung by a group called the Byrd’s coincidently.
“Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” Robert Frost
So often poet’s words offer comfort or give direction back to the journey set off course in but one moment time. There is no filling of a void. Yet when looking at life and all that has been and when looking at the journey to now there truly was never a void. There is a turn in the road, a new direction, all that has led to this point has not changed and it is there behind us, lifting us, guiding us, and strengthening us as we continue. I remember back to a photo of my son crossing a stream in north Georgia already sopping wet from falling in but still intent on making it across stone by stone, crossing the stream on the rocks as he jumped.
We all can cross in our time and there are times when a hand is welcome. Years ago, I set up a website for a youth group and today I will close with the starting line from that website “Friends are never alone”. Keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and today and keep those friends who may need extra support close at hand namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)