Sunday, July 24, 2011

In the blink of an eye

She was only having fun–or so she thought. That is what young people are supposed to do. The fun turned to an obsession beckoning her to feed the hunger that grew within her. Once social and now insatiable she found herself succumbing to its continual call. With promiscuity and sacrifice of morals and self-esteem she found that she now looked at the self she once knew–diminishing in size as she peered upon herself in the rear-view. She can’t be pregnant, she thought. The little plastic stick told her otherwise. She opted not to be a mother. The guilt and the grief changed her–transformed her. She would have been alone anyhow. She is now alone–and hates herself as she grieves the death of the promise she once held as well as her unborn child. It happened in the blink of an eye.


He loved her. She loved him. They started a family. Then their family grew. He dedicated himself to the vision. Her vision shifted into a wandering eye. He was told over breakfast. Feeling like the old car left behind on the lot watching the once proud owner in a new model, he sat in shock. It was not just the idea of going from an “us” to a “me”, it was that it seemed easy for her. He wondered what he must have become to make her who she had become. He became angry. He felt guilty. He felt lonely. No one is supposed to change the script while you sit and watch the movie. It just isn’t fair. From playing in the yard with the kids to sitting in the yard waiting for their arrival for your turn for a paltry couple of hours, it all seemed like a cruel joke, and he was the punch line. It happened in the blink of an eye.


She held his hand through it all–the illness both acquired and self-imposed. She was the rock. Once we get through this, everything will be the way it was supposed to be. We will try again for another child. Maybe the first time was God’s way of saying, “not now.” He had trouble finding himself, but ironically his erratic behavior was a constant reminder he was always right there–a challenge to himself, and more so a challenge of her love. But she did love him. The vow I took said “for better or worse, and sickness and in health.” This was the worse, and this was the sickness. She went to the appointments. She held his hand. She nurtures him on the mend. Then one day he left her. He took his pain, and left enough behind for her. He just didn’t leave an answer to the question, “why?” It happened in the blink of an eye.

He had it all. Good pay, promise of a future, all the perks of one who entered into the family business. That is how he met his wife. Yet another perk. He saw the world. He appeared before the masses to small levels of acclaim. He desired more. He mistook the demon of narcissism as its friendly counterpart competition. The demon invited entitlement. The demon invited apathy. The demon invited fear. And they invited addiction. Gone was the career. Gone were the perks. Gone was the business. Gone was the sense of self-worth. Some of the family also went by the way of the perks and the business. It seems a long way from the top to the bottom. However you can indeed find the trip from summit to the valley below can happen in the blink of an eye.
In the blink of an eye.

It is these “blinks”, both the good and the bad that are like the flickering frames in a movie. These individual moments that string together to provide us with the script that becomes our life. I have found that these types of episodes are the catalysts for transformation. As the eye closes to bring an end to one image, so must it open to start a new one. The process will repeat.

The injustice appears in the form of someone or something changing or stopping the story we were so enjoying. After loss or in grieving we reflect on the way things should have been, could have been, or would have been. How dare someone or something change the channel in the middle of our favorite movie? But this is also where our recovery will begin.

As the negative story can shift in the blink of an eye, so can our healing. The previous is tangible proof that all things can change rapidly. Our insurmountable odds become manageable as fast as they eroded beneath our feet. It is through our ability to “allow” these things to occur where the transformation shifts from our loss to the blessings of what we had when we had them. We also now have space in our empty hearts and empty hands for what is yet to come. Patience is all one needs.

As when we find ourselves in the middle of a movie, and our favorite character is killed, or turns evil, or the plot twists away from our comfort levels, often we do not find that we simply curse, stand, and leave the theatre. We may curse perhaps, but we remain. We stay fixed on what is unfolding, and allow it to continue. This is not to say we endorse it or subscribe to it–but we allow it none-the less. This is because we have faith that the reasons will be revealed. We will find out in time, the lesson behind the chaos. The payoff eventually comes.

Life is a lot like this. Plot twists abound. Our favorite components are removed, replaced, or transmuted into something we do not understand. By not shouldering the burden of retribution and justice seeking, I am able to realize that often there are forces more qualified than myself at work, and justice is indeed served, and the payoff presented to the worthy. I have found also that everything, and I do mean everything, does eventually provide for me the payoff of justice, wisdom, patience, or the ability to spare others a similar pain.

As personal challenges can truly occur in the blink of an eye, so can healing. Sometimes through this interruption of our movie–allowance and patience is simply God’s way of saying, “sit down, shut up, and eat your popcorn.”

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(These scenarios are to prove a point and do not reflect anyone's personal story. Well maybe one.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It is during the "right now's"...

It is during the “right now’s” that I find my greatest gifts. Upon this realization, I lament at the many, many “right now’s” I have let slip through my fingertips. These “right now’s” are moments of gratitude–moments where I realize I am blessed beyond my current deserving–fleeting moments to be cherished.

I find the benevolent, vivid, and enduring gifts available to me when I release yesterday and stop reaching for tomorrow. It is in this state of presence my breath is taken away from me. I am also grateful to realize that it is simply my receptiveness and continual desire for awareness of these “right now’s” that will change my life from having them solely punctuate my life, to harmoniously string them together like notes in one continual glorious song.

It was during a “right now” that I was able to glance to my right. My convertible top was down and the sun was shining. I watched my beautiful daughter fumble to place the Shasta daisy I picked for her behind her ear as the wind tousled her hair with a lively dance. It was “right now” I realized she was no longer my baby. It was “right now” I realized she will always be my baby. Her silhouette is still as angelic as when I held her as an infant.

It was during a “right now” I released my urgency to be anywhere in particular. I decided to stroll into one of those shops–you know the ones you always pass by and wonder what the heck they sell and how they stay in business. It was in this store that had thousands of my life’s artifacts. Not mine personally, but antique and old objects from a time I have long since left in my rear-view mirror. I saw the cup I drank out of when I was a child. The cup that held jelly in our fridge before it was housed in our cupboard. I saw the tacky clock from above our couch. I stood in my childhood kitchen again. For a moment I stood in my childhood again.

It was during a “right now” I remembered what it was like to feel grass under a blanket. It was during a “right now” I realized a picnic with a loved one takes only minutes to plan, and even less time to get somewhere suitable. Something about sitting next to your food on a blanket and trying to keep ants out of it rivals the finest dining. A mosaic of dancing sunbeams that struggle to find you through the branches is the only ambience one needs. You are never too old to wipe watermelon juice off your chin.

It was during a “right now” that I realized that there is something divine about a group of close friends breaking bread together. I find for myself that there is something simply wonderful about sharing a meal. I also enjoy noticing that my wife still laughs at my jokes. I appreciate it is often the dynamic of the group setting that lifts the veil of the mundane and adds spark and levity to the conversation. I also enjoy confirming how much we are all really alike in many ways. We still love each other despite our differences.

It was during a “right now” that I was joined by a friend on my backyard swing. It was my friend who called my attention to the cicada’s song which seems an essential part of summer. She also shared her love of the sound of lawn sprinklers. I listened. I agree. There is nothing like a swing and a friend to unfurl the sail of a “right now” moment.

It was during a “right now” that I shared the moon with my daughter. She shared a star with me. Then she shared another. I found that I am still awestruck by the glory of the canopy of the heaven that is above me. I am still awestruck by the “right now’s” available to me.

The “right now’s” I shared are simply my yesterday–a regular, yet extraordinary day. Placed in the context of an unappreciative eye and hollow heart, these moments could have slipped by unnoticed. It is my strong conviction that the quality of our life is weighted heavily by the emphasis on the attention we give to our “right now’s.”

Right now I leave you and I to go explore our own “right now’s.”

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