Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time, Like An Ever Rolling Stream

yesterday my wife and i drove home after spending a few days with relatives in the mountains about five hours north of here. the first part of the trip home, my wife drove, and i was free to watch the beautiful scenery pass by. a couple of hours into the drive, i realized that my mind was jumping from thoughts of future plans to events of the past; i was anywhere except in the moment and the beauty that surrounded me was going unnoticed.

in thinking of this morning's post, it occurred to me that this experience was typical of how i often spend my time: ignoring the beauty of the present to plan for (or fret over) the future or wasting energy regretting past mistakes that cannot be corrected. it is necessary to look to the future and to recall the past so that we learn from it, but to do so at the expense of missing the present is a grave error.

my prayer for myself and for you this morning is that we live in and enjoy the present, fully appreciating the moment that we will neveer experience again, while planning for the future and learning from the past with a mind that is focused and alert.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Christ, There Is No East or West

yesterday i drove through the park across the street from my home. i've written about the role this park has played in my life, and i was saddened to see that the swimming pool in which i swam as a child was being demolished. the pool had been closed for several years because expensive repairs were needed to keep it open. i suspect that the "city fathers" decided to forgo the repairs because the pool was serving only poor, and preponderately black, children; the children of the affluent swim in their own home pools or in other pools that are not open to the public. as i drove on thinking of the happy times i had spent in this beautiful pool, it struck me that it hadn't occureed to me as a child how privileged i was. in those days, the pool was "whites only;" the children of the men who were relegated to jobs like keeping the park grass cut were barred from the pool. it wasn't really a "public" pool in my childhood, because only the children of the white establishment were allowed to swim there.

as i continued to think along those lines, i was, and am, troubled about our failure to see the injustices that are woven into our lives. just as it never entered my mind all those years ago that, while i played in a beautiful pool maintained by tax dollars, others whose parents paid taxes were denied the use of the pool that their parents' taxes helped build, staff, and maintain, so injustice is invisible to us most of the time if we are not victims of it.

later in the day, i drove past a home a few blocks from mine that had been vacant for sometime. i had noticed recently that it appeared that someone was moving into the home, and i was happy to think that the house and yard might be made beautiful once more. as i watched a young black girl playing in the yard, i caught myself thinking, "blacks have moved into that house. what will that do to the value of my property?" in the pride of my moral superiority, i, like the pharisee in Jesus' story, was guilty of the sin of thanking God that i was not like that publican. yet, here i was, a person who prided himself of being free of the sin of racism, thinking more about the value of my own property than about the joy that this child and her family must be feeling as they settled into their new home in this lovely neighborhood.

my prayers today are that all of us will be more alert to the injustices that we should struggle against and that we are transformed so that the pride of our own false moral rectitude gives way to the humility of the publican who prayed, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

O Savior, in This Quiet Place

today is valentine's day, and i must write something about my wonderful wife who is my valentine this day and every day. we have been married over 43 years, and it seems like yesterday that we became partners for life and in life. she is a remarkable woman who has made life better and more complete for me and our two children. every day she blesses my life with her remarkable spirit.

i woke up early this morning, my mind filled with details about distributing music for upcoming symphony concerts. i was so distracted by these nagging thoughts that i found it difficult to focus on my morning prayers and meditation. at the end of the time i devote to these pursuits, i realized that my mind was filled with questions that i could not answer and that these uncertainties would continue to plague me until they were resolved by the symphony music director/conductor. it was as if suddenly the burden of not knowing what to do was lifted, and i saw that i needed to shift that buden to the one person who could resolve the matters that were keeping me from moving forward with my work.

isn't it so often the case that we worry about things over which we can have no control? isn't that what "worry" truly is: seeking to control that which can't be controlled? once more, i'm reminded that the busy, ill-focused mind keeps me from being in the moment i could be enjoying. i sit in my comfortable chair in a comfortable room with the fireplace pouring warmth towards me. my sweet wife is sleeping peacefully in the next room. my son is sleeping in his little apartment just outside our back door. life is as it should be, and my frantic mind has been keeping me from appreciating all that.

my prayer for myself and you this morning is that we stop the busy-ness of our minds and focus on the joy that is ours for the taking. shalom.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Help Us Accept Each Other

this morning as i sit down to write, i am pushed for time. at the same time, i feel the need to avoid rushing myself, and i hope that i find that there is ample time to say what i want to say. so often, i discover at times that are the most hectic, slowing down produces abundant time for all that is needful, and that this is my experience this morning.

for the past couple of years we have had our adult son at home with us, living in our little guest house that was originally built for my wife's mother when she was no longer able to live independently. it has been a joy to have him here, because he is one of the kindest, most gentle people i know, and, even if he weren't, we would still love having him with us simply because he is our son.

my wife loves seeing that he has a good breakfast and a good dinner. she fixes him a lunch to take to work most days, and she insists on washing his clothes, even though he has assured her repeatedly that she doesn't need to do all these things for him. this time of having him here has given her the best of the "empty nest" experience while still being able to mother her youngest child. even though he's not in the house with us, she knows that he is only a few steps away whenever she wants to see him.

he plans to move to a lovely area about five hours away from us. he has saved up to be able to afford the move and to support himself for several months, even though he has no job lined up there yet. we have to support what makes him happy, but it is with mixed emotions that we look toward his departure. we will both miss him terribly, but it is his mother that will suffer the most because she won't be able to do all the little things for him that she has enjoyed doing.

as i've thought about our son's imminent departure, i have realized how interconnected we all are. i will miss giving him a hug and wishing him well as he leaves for work each morning. i will miss his table graces at our evening meal. i will miss seeing his smile every day and hearing about his dreams of life in a new and beautiful place. i know, though, that the anticipation of being on his own once more, of being more fully independent, fills his heart with joy, and i understand how he feels. he must follow his own path and we must encourage him, though it pains us to see him leave.

my prayer for him, for my wife and i, and for all of us is that we can do what makes our heart sing, that we grant others the freedom to experience life on their own terms, and that we lovingly give up the desire to control the lives of others. shalom.