Impatiently Waiting for…?

This week has been a roller coaster for me. My neighbor and two of our friends had an impromptu end-of-summer picnic on my back deck and the evening was filled with laughter. Then, only one man came to a meeting I’d scheduled. I now find myself questioning if I am on the right course? (Could His plan be something different for me than what I had envisioned?) I enjoyed a most pleasant cruise on beautiful Lake Superior, and ended the week with a calming first symphony concert of the season. Busier than usual, I found myself wanting to slow down. Having recently retired, wasn’t this supposed to be a LESS active time in my life? (Of course…when I talk with other retirees, they reassure me that things only get busier….) Questioning the overall direction of my choice in social causes has caused me to wonder how I might know for sure if I am on the “right” path.

“You too be patient” says James (5:8). Regrettably, patience has never been one of my virtues. I want what I want when I want it. Yes, that is definitely something I need to work on! But my question remains:  How do I know if I am on the right path? The inner roller coaster that I’ve been on recently leaves something to be desired. I keep looking for a sign. I’m afraid, though, that I am missing something that is glaringly obvious, right under my nose. What is it I don’t see? I can’t seem to hear Him.

In Colossians 1, St Paul prays that the Colossians “may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” And later, “…put on a new self,” putting aside evil ways. “…Put on love” and “…do your work heartily, as for the Lord.” Finally, “Devote yourselves to prayer” and “Conduct yourselves with wisdom.”

It is my hope to know His will for me – soon. (A certain amount of patience wouldn’t hurt, either, Lord.)

A Man to be Admired

I did some traveling recently. I visited a man I’ve known since childhood. He is now 91 years old, and he still has the same great sense of humor I recall from years ago.

Unfortunately, there was a falling out within the family some years ago. I understood what had happened, but I was not in a position to intervene. As a result this man and his wife were pretty much isolated from the rest of the family for years. Though infrequently, I continued to maintain contact.

Not long ago, I received a telephone call from this man. He was obviously making an effort to connect.

As time went on, I learned more. I now know he has cancer, and that he is making an effort to connect with people who have mattered in his life.

He is going deaf and that makes it difficult to carry on a conversation with him, but he is still the kind of caring man I remember from years gone by. I know that, in the course of his life, he and his wife did not always have an easy time of it. However, throughout all of those ups and downs, he has kept on going, accepted his lot, and moved on.

I saw all of this again when I visited him. Here was a man facing his fate, but determined to keep going for as long as he is able. He was obviously appreciative of the effort I had made to visit. He understood where things were headed for him, and he was making the effort to let those he cared about KNOW he cared – while there was still time.

I admire this man. He has met adversity throughout his life, and yet he has rolled on. He has approached his life with humor, sincerity, and good will. Now he was saying goodbye…and he knew it.

I only hope that, when my time comes, I too will be able to gaze into the Face of Death, accepting its inevitability – as amicably and as gracefully as I was privileged to witness this past weekend.

Two Great Commandments

What does it mean to you to love God with all your heart? With all your soul? With all your strength? With all your mind? And your neighbor as yourself? (Luke 10:27)

At first I thought there might be a different definition for each question, but upon reflecting, I believe they are all wrapped into one (perhaps that should read “One”). How do you love someone with all your heart? To me, that means you would do absolutely anything for them. What is your soul? Your soul is your very essence, the sum of your innermost feelings. To me, that is everything you are about, and everything in which you believe. That means you can’t be drawn into those things that lead you away from those beliefs. To love with all your strength? Easy to say. Not so easily accomplished. That is to put forth your all and never weaken. Loving with all your mind recognizes a belief in the concept of God.

So then, we must be willing to do absolutely anything for God. Nothing (not wealth, not food, not power, nor a myriad of other temptations…) should be able to lead us away from our love for Him. We must never weaken and we must truly know this God in whom we profess belief.

Additionally, the commandment tells us that you must love your neighbor – just as much as you love yourself. Most of us love ourselves pretty well, don’t we? That means that we cannot ignore another’s need in hopes that someone else will take care of “it,” whatever “it” is. We are charged with doing for others, all that we would do for ourselves. If we thirst, we get ourselves a drink. If we are hungry, we eat. If we see others who are homeless, lonely, or otherwise in need, we are charged to treat them as we would wish to be treated. This isn’t always convenient, and it is not always enjoyable. At times, it is downright challenging. Do unto others as you would have done to you….

Our God has high standards, doesn’t He?

Searching for Goodness and Kindness

I don’t believe I personally know of anyone who is in favor of going to war with Syria. I have heard more from those who are against the idea, though. My generation grew up with Vietnam. Seems like, for about as long as I can remember, the U.S. has been at war somewhere. I really don’t want to believe that it is all political maneuvering. It is hard, though, not to wonder….

In spite of it often being extremely hard to see, I do still believe that there are good people out there who want to do good. It bothers me greatly when I read a comment like I did the other day that Ariel Castro hanging himself was the “best news of the day!”

Where, dear God, is our compassion? Granted, Ariel Castro’s deeds were horrendous, but, just as with those who receive death sentences for crimes they committed, I fail to see how one more death is going to make anything better.

It upsets me, too, when I read reports such as this one:  “In North Carolina, a fight is brewing over the homeless in the capital city of Raleigh. Elected leaders have asked charitable and religious groups to stop their long-standing tradition of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends.”

If cities don’t want the homeless in their towns, then they should work with them to find housing solutions.

Nearly 40 percent of our students are unable to read at a third grade level! Where are we, as a nation, heading? How can we, as a nation, be proud when corruption, intolerance, and lack of quality education permeate our society?

While I do still hold out hope that good will triumph over evil, some days are more difficult than others to see a better future ahead.

“…Surely goodness and kindness will follow me….” I pray that it does.