Bird Droppings November 8, 2022
It is a new day, a new start, and always day one
I am feeling old today; now that I am working on my seventieth third year of life and a cold front is coming in, my bones are aching. I remember nearly sixteen years ago, as we got closer to the last day in our old house, it was appropriate to be the last day of the month. I am sitting here in my writing nook upstairs, thinking back. This morning is a new, glorious day, and who knows what this day may hold. As I start, I wonder who I will meet and talk with and what new ideas may come around. Being accustomed to early rising, I am sitting here at my computer typing away, getting thoughts down, organizing notes, and a semblance of trying to pull together a dissertation. It is a good day, with a sixty percent chance of rain and a forty percent chance of sun. I like the weather reports on the news. They are always vague and cover every angle, neither cloud nor sun for sure but the possibility of either. I found this thought today as I sat and pondered.
“Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.” Matthew Flickstein, Journey to The Center
When I saw this, I thought of a dear friend who passed away what seems decades ago today and was only a few years. A teenager who I would have never suspected had a feeling for Robert Frost. So, for those who knew him, a particular word for Travis was someone special who could light up a room and generally get someone mad simultaneously.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down today.
Nothing gold can stay.
When I went to the funeral of Travis and heard this poem read, I was in tears. This was his favorite poem. I had to think, ponder, and for myself, I could not have remembered that verse though I am sure I read it somewhere in my wanderings. Travis was not a scholar, and I do not mean that in a bad way; he was quite the opposite. Yet this verse was significant to him, and he carried it on a piece of paper in his wallet. Earlier today, I wrote, responding to an email, about doing right or doing good.
“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat on you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa
A friend from Ohio sent me this quote and paraphrased it. If you are an atheist, cover your ears and eyes unless someone is reading this to you. An atheist friend responded with. “All atheists have to do is substitute another word (like ‘conscience’) or thought for ‘God’ in the final sentence, which works just as well. Or better, eliminate the final sentence, which works even better since the reader must devise his justification for doing the right thing.” As I think back to Travis, I honestly do not think he intentionally did wrong ever. Everything he did, while annoying at times and loud, was joyful. It was often funny as I sit here; that was the word that popped into my mind, joyful.
I agree with that great philosopher and guru of gurus, a dear friend from the Philadelphia area Dlog Nala, that leaving out the last sentence significantly changes the passage. So often in life, we need excuses to do something even though it is correct. What is in it for me is that extrinsic motivation that drives humankind. Even in this analogy of doing for God, there is a reason for doing good rather than simply because it is correct. At the same time, I am reminiscing about going back many years to an argument in seminary. I was always intrigued by how the mafia Godfather would have last rites and absolution on his deathbed even though he had murdered many people and pillaged the city through crime. I listened to many messages of salvation from sin.
I had a professor and an entire discussion group tell me how upset they were that this group of people we had just worked with were going to hell because they could not accept their way of believing. The particular unit was a severe and profoundly disabled unit at Central state hospital back in the days of institutions, a large complex of buildings and humanity in Central Georgia in the early 1970s. Many patients in this unit were bedridden and connected to feeding tubes, literally comatose. They were turned every hour or so to prevent bedsores. I always thought it was interesting that these folks in that unit were lost, and the mafia godfather was not. The science of theology has a way of doing that.
It has been several years since another friend, and I walked five miles daily to discuss life and theology. Many of the talks as we walked, of where, when, how, and many of Travis and his impact on our lives. I am amazed at how a sixteen-year-old could affect so many people.
“Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.” Matthew Flickstein, Journey To The Center
We tend to get greedy when we have a good thing and never want to let go of it. I have been writing each morning for nearly fourteen years, and on that morning, after holding Travis’s hand for most of the night, a story I have told so many times. I had been watching monitors go in the direction I was hoping they would not. The doctor said it was up to the family to harvest organs when given permission. Travis was an organ donor, it was his wish, and he even talked about it often. I went to my own home after taking all the high school friends of Travis back after a night in the hospital. I sat down at my computer, and I have related this so many times previously, and there is a yellow post-it note from my son to the monitor.
“Dad,” it was addressed to me. “Life is about the journey, not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith
It was funny how it took my teenager, at that time, son to give me perspective. I learned more at that moment than I had in many years of discussions and classes. We all are on a journey, each of us often wandering far from the path. My son is now a science teacher, and I do not think he knows how much he taught his old man in one line. Some of us never step out of the way from our travels. For many people, it is always a straight and narrow pathway. However, some of us choose to go down this side road and up that path. It is the journey we are on that is so important, and it is on that journey we need to borrow from Mother Theresa and do what is right, do it anyway. Sitting here, and my computer alarm went off time to get busy. As I was reading the news on Yahoo a few minutes back, I thought maybe a change in how we view our world situation is on the horizon coming up. I hope so; life is so precious that it is not a commodity like our economy. We are not human capital as so many politicians and even educators would like to think. So as always, for today, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)