Memorial Day 2016, 1:53 AM

“Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”
–Ecclesiastes 7:9-10

“Can you not advance in your concept of God’s dealing with man to that level where you recognize that the watchword of the universe is progress? Through long ages the human race has struggled to reach its present position. Throughout all these millenniums Providence has been working out the plan of progressive evolution. The two thoughts are not opposed in practice, only in man’s mistaken concepts. Divine providence is never arrayed in opposition to true human progress, either temporal or spiritual. Providence is always consistent with the unchanging and perfect nature of the supreme Lawmaker.”
–The Urania Book

A few thoughts that have been on my heart tonight.

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time mourning, grieving. The loss of a parent is never easy, and as I approach thirty, I feel like I’m also mourning the last vestiges of my youth and hurling into middle age more quickly than I’d like.

As such, I’ve been revisiting a lot of places and memories that I held dear in my childhood. I will also be able to return to these places when need be, but no one can or should live in the past. It isn’t helpful for one’s present state of mind, nor is it wise. In fact, too much dwelling on the past can inspire anger. It can make us begin to question, “Why aren’t things as they were? Why are things so messy now? Why can’t it be simple again?”

But as children of God (and we are all children of God, divine creations of one Great Architect, whether we know it or not), we are not called to glorify the past but to live fully now in the present in hopeful and active expectation of a better future to come. That is God’s promise. That is the supreme reality of the universe man inhabits.

Yes, we will face calamity. Yes, there will be bad times. And yes, the future is uncertain. But faith calls us to recognize that ultimately, all will be made right, that through trusting God to call us into the fullness of our own humanity, all things will be brought under God’s Providence. To recognize that even if the moral arc is long, it bends toward justice, as Dr. King famously wrote.

I see much of this yearning for “simpler” “better” times in the American spirit as well, especially here in the mountains. We want to retreat to a golden age that never was. We want to “bring back jobs” and “make America great again.” But these are empty words, devoid of meaning. They are blatant nonsense.

The challenges we face as individuals and collectively as a species can not be answered by looking to the past. No politician or businessman can save us, and anyone who says that they can is lying. Don’t be fooled. And don’t fool yourself into believing their “tickling of ears.”

The future is uncertain, yes, but it is ultimately in the hands of God. We must each walk our own path and pick each other up when we fall. Our hope lies in the love and compassion we build for one another.

As this election season approaches and heats, I remind both my conservative and liberal friends not to let our differences of political opinion keep us, all of us, from seeing each other as what we truly are: brothers and sisters, children of God.

And I remind myself not to fall into the trap of looking so fondly on the past that I forget that I have a bright future ahead of me.

Love you guys. Peace.

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On Aging

Somedays, I feel old.  And not just old, but ancient, as if I’ve been around forever and I don’t have much time left to accomplish, well, whatever it is that I’ve been put here in this world to do.  There is a feeling of time slipping through the glass, of sand falling.  There is a feeling of reluctance and dare I say anxiety regarding the future.  And then I realize how silly I am being.  

I am twenty-seven.  I just graduated college one week ago (I got a bit of a late and bumpy start on the front in, but finished strong), and I’m about to get married.  My life is just beginning.  

And if people in their forties can start new careers and move to new cities and take up new hobbies and learn new things; if people in their fifties can find new loves and build new friendships and have experiences that they have never had before:  

Then there is still plenty of time for me.  

Don’t rush.  We all rush too damn much as it is. 

Love Will Always Bring You Down, and That’s All Right

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
–Matthew 7:13

 

“Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
–John 18:36

 

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
–2 Corinthians 4:4

 

“Love is all you need.”
–John Lennon

 

I took the day off today.  Completely.  

In spite of the fact that I was supposed to be in class.  In spite of the fact that the mountain of work that my final semester in college has put on my shoulders.  In spite of the fact that I should have been staying busy, busy, busy all day today just to maintain some semblance of staying on top of things.  

Instead, I put it all to the side.  I spent last night hanging out with my fiancé and some of the closest friends I’ve ever had.  I spent today hanging out with them as well, and this afternoon, I accompanied my fiancé to a local tattoo shop where she got a new tattoo and I redid a piercing in one of my ears.  I consider this a good day, and I consider the occasional shirking of responsibilities a noble act, in the right circumstances.  

And in what circumstance would that be?  When we have the opportunity, in whatever small way, to strengthen the relationships that we have with those we love.  Now, obviously, we can’t do this everyday.  We can’t even do this as much as we would like.  

But I do often notice that we live in a world where people to seem to be increasingly busy, increasingly hurried, and increasingly anxious about their situation in life.  I suppose this may be nothing new, but it does seem that for some people the priority list in life seems to be career and ambitions first, then personal health including physical, spiritual, and psychological, then relationships with friends and family.

You see, the people you love will always bring you down.  They will.  They will always take your precious time, time that could be spent being productive and reaching goals and force you to give that time to them.  And you will.  Because that is what love is.  Love is the giving of the most valuable asset that any of us possess to another:  time.  And of course, we see this time as finite, because from our perspective, it is.  

As a child in Sunday school, I never understood what was meant when we were told that “The Devil is the god of this world.”  When we were told that “God’s Kingdom is not in this world.”  When we were told that “narrow is the way to salvation.”  And while many a Christian has brought themselves to believe that all this is referring to some otherworldly fate awaiting people after death, we must live that eternity is now if it is anytime, and that when we ignore those whom we love (and if we call ourselves Christians, as I do, then our mission is to love the whole world while not being a part of it, more on that in a minute) then we are denying an essential part of what it means to grasp at the divinity of Christ.  We can only serve God by serving those we love, and we are to love and forgive all.  This is stark contrast to the self-help, get-her-done culture that the Western world has developed in which the rugged individual and his or her (usually his) success is praised and worshipped above all else; where we idolize the constantly busy and successful CEO or movie star; where we are told if you dare to be poor and happy, you are a failure or worse, a leech on the rest of society that is bringing everyone around you down.  

And while career ambition is a good and lofty thing to have, it isn’t the be all end all of what our brief lives in this world are to be about.  And while I believe it is perfectly fine to own things, we must never allow ourselves to be in the frame of mind that allows our things, our wealth, our material goods or even our physical bodies, to own us, to own our will, or to own our souls.  And I write this knowing that as the Apostle Paul wrote, I am certainly chief among sinners, for I have allowed all of these things, at one time or another, to own me.  

Planning on having a kid?  Kiss that perfect body and those nights out goodbye.
Planning on getting married?  You’re going to be sharing nearly every spare minute of your life with another person, forget about all those hours you’ve spending binge watching “House of Cards.”  Unless you’re marrying a fellow “House of Cards” fan, in which case, carry on.
Friends coming over for dinner and drinks tonight?  Forget about working on that novel, pal.  There goes a life of fortune and fame.  

Yes, all that important work we should be doing to further ourselves, or hell, even those quite plans for relaxation we had planned, particularly important for a natural introvert like me (I’m very extroverted in my daily life, but it’s come with great practice over many years) go right out the window when the ones we love desire our time.  But last night, while I was sitting in my living room, accompanied by my several of my closest friends, it hit me.  I need not worry.  As long as I have these people, I’m already wealthy beyond measure.  Are they taking away from my productivity?  Yup.  Are they keeping me from my studies?  Yup.  Are they draggin’ me down?  Absolutely.  

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

Let us always be mindful of what is truly important and realize that if we aren’t living for love, then what’s the point, anyway?