Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hand Crafted Lives

The hot air balloons are floating over the valley this morning, just a stones throw from my house. Like multi-colored dandelions a child might find in the front yard, helium balloons, or soap bubbles at a birthday party. Bigger though, and kept afloat by fire. They hang in the air effortlessly, at least to the eye of a casual observer, the effort really being out of sight, the burner working overtime to make the magic appear, well, magical. It seems that in life there is always something going on behind the scene that makes everything happen. Nothing really happens by itself, except of course, in nature. Nature happens. It happens with us or without us. It happens whether we want it to or not. It just happens.

Nothing of the un-natural world just happens, except deterioration. Anything, if left alone, will degrade, and deteriorate. It will not prosper, it will not multiply, it will not eventually manifest itself as more perfect than at the time of its creation. That is unless it has been constructed out of something taken from the natural world. A piece of furniture, for example, a hand crafted guitar. They will begin a process of deterioration, but they will eventually become richer, more well-regarded, and more valuable with time if cared for properly. The ageing of natural elements, people included, enables their depth, and the nature of their character to more fully emerge. People deteriorate physically, and mentally, but the true spirit of an individual, the essence of somebody, becomes more manifest with the passage of time.

That piece of furniture, or that hand-crafted guitar, if constructed with shoddy workmanship, or sub-standard material, will eventually become just another pile of wood. And it will end up being as worthless as the lack of care and attention invested in it.

As people, we are hand crafted, with natural (and supernatural) elements. We are created to be of value, and to reflect that value. As with nature, we just happen, but we happen with forethought, and with purpose. We must regard ourselves thoughtfully, purposefully, and take care to embrace, and protect, the essence of who we each are intended to be.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Little Ones

The little ones, they remain with us. The not yet fully formed who have had an incomplete entry into this formidable world. They do not cease to exist as one who may not be paying attention might imagine. They exist along with the rest of those of us who made it safely. Whether they be under-developed, injured in their formative stages, forcibly taken from the comfort of the womb, or inadvertently neglected by their spiritual caretakers, they join hands with the soulful, to lend purity and balance to an enigmatic world. These saints of God have eternal substance, and they have purpose. They have a place in our lives, and they have a position at our table. They will always be with us, no matter what. They will not be forgotten by the men and women who see beyond the temporal, the physical, and the immediate. They will never be forgotten. These little ones have names, names they may have not, as of yet, been given. But they remain among us, unsullied by the concerns of pain, discomfort, anxiety, fear and discouragement that the rest of us continue to wrestle with throughout our lives. They are to be embraced each day as one would embrace the visible. Absent of body is not absent of life. It is never absent of life. I believe that God inhabits our lives through these emerging souls, the young angels, the quiet conscience of humanity, set free to teach wisdom to the wise, to give peace to the unsettled, to bring love to those of us who struggle with our own constraints in the matter.
If we will only listen.

And set another place at the table.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

If I Had One Day Left To Live

If I had only one day left to live I’d probably take a quiet walk in the woods, below the snow line, but above the timberline. I’d follow an old path along a living creek as it made its way over rich earth, across ancient ground, through granite rock, spilling softly out into a generous meadow. A missing piece of heaven, standing still, glistening in the early morning sun. I’d watch the light dancing on wet green moss, young blades of grass, and the new growth branches on young pine trees lining the edge of the field. I’d walk on those little fallen pinecones that congregate beneath the tallest of the trees. I’d step on them just for the sound of the crunch. I’d raise my head to find lazy clouds drifting silently, and unannounced, across a boundless expanse of azure sky. I’d listen for their wings, as birds danced on currents of air, like leaves in a light wind. I’d watch them land like feathers, on twigs as light as breath, but strong as a man whose own back bends under the weight of his brother. I’d sit by the water and watch the reflection of that same sky, with those same clouds, a mirror image of the miraculous. I’d put my head in my hands and thank God that I was fortunate enough to have had an abundance of these moments while living out my years amid the beauty of this ancient, sacred Garden. And I would feel sad for those who spent their lives inside, or captivated by the city.

Then I would dig my own grave, on the edge of the meadow, in a comfortable place, bathed partially in light, and partially in the shade. I would make it deep enough to allow my disappearance, but shallow enough that I could still see the outstretched arms of the welcoming sky.

Then I would go see my family to say my last goodbye’s. The final hugs, the last look in their eyes, the last words that I would ever speak, the last words that I would ever hear.

I’d tell my sons that they have always been my one intention, that I have loved them more than life, and that I left footprints on the ground for them in case they ever lose their way. I’d tell my grandson that if he grows up to be like his dad, or his uncle, he’d be a very good man. I‘d tell him “Be yourself grandson, but carry their goodness inside you”.
I’d tell the mother of my sons that I have always loved the part of her I find in them. I’d tell my little sister how much I’ve loved her, how she has been the pulse of my own heart, and that the loveliness of her ascension has always inspired me. I’d tell my little brother, how proud of him I have always been, and how humbled I have felt by his goodness. I’d let my parents know that I wish it had never been necessary for us to miss out on so much of each other’s lives. I would thank them for the foundation they gave me early on, and the embrace along the way. I’d tell my wife that I was found by her, and loved by her, that she was better at it than I was, but that my affection, and appreciation, for her ran as deep as the inadequacy of my love, like clean water underground, like a profound, but introverted, dream.

Then I would return again to the meadow, in the late afternoon, to the bed of earth I’d fashioned with my own hands, the final resting place for these old weathered bones. I’d lie down quietly on my weary back, face to the eternal sky, I’d close my eyes, and for the final minutes of my life, I’d listen for the wings of birds, dancing on currents of air, like leaves in a light wind.
If I had one day left to live.

What would you do?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thoughts On Golf

Have you noticed how Tiger Woods, since he’s become Mr. Adonis from his 6-hour-per-day gym workouts, holds the pose on his backswing just a couple of seconds longer than he used to? Wants to give us all time to admire his physique, and get the photos, I suppose. We’re used to seeing Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer holding that pose, but I think the Tiger is getting just a little carried away in the vanity department these days. Somebody needs to sit him down and ask him, “Who do you think you are? Tiger Woods?” The self-importance is leading me to believe that perhaps he’s found a cure for cancer, but is keeping it quiet for now, waiting to make an announcement to the world after he wins the next Masters. I don’t want to be the one to remind him that he’s actually just hitting a little golf ball into a hole in the ground, but I might have to if no one else does.

Somebody once said, when asked if he enjoyed playing golf, “Why would I want to ruin a good walk in the park?” I actually love playing golf. I’m a pretty bad golfer compared to a good golfer, but for just playing every two or three years, I can usually find the hole with the ball before it gets dark. I’d probably be better if I got some of those golf shoes with the spikes so that I could actually walk on that beautifully manicured grass without slipping, sliding, stumbling, tripping and falling down all over the place. Get a good grip on the lawn, y’know. Hazardous ground, those golf courses. And maybe a pastel shirt and pants outfit to complete the look.

I like how when somebody is getting ready to hit the ball (I think they actually call it ‘teeing up, and striking the ball’), and everybody in the crowd (I think they actually call it the gallery) has to hold their breath, not make a sound, and then exhale together with a whispered chorus of ‘ooohhs’ and ‘aaahh’s in admiration of the magnificent feat of hitting (striking) a stationary ball with an $800 custom made club embedded with a global-positioning device that will actually allow the club head to find the ball for you. I think it’s a study in concentration, not necessarily for the golfer, but for the crowd (gallery), who has to co-ordinate the group response as if it were the ultimate affirmation to legitimize the shot. And then they throw you out of the gallery if you cough, or if your mother calls to ask “How come you never call?”

Baseball players trying to hit a 98 mile per hour Randy Johnson fastball, or a wicked, curveball, slider or changeup that’s ducking, darting and moving around like your little tickle sister, and with the crowd hollering, stomping, taking flash photos and talking on their cell phones, must find that golf protocol just a little silly. Wouldn’t ya think?

OK, the inevitable, and always controversial, question? Are golfers athletes?
Answer: I don’t know, but those guys that carry their bag, find their ball for them, and tell them which club to use, might be.
Second, and more thoughtful answer:
Who cares?

Please, no emails from disgruntled, or offended, golfers.
Just having a little fun folks. I don’t want to be accused of being too serious all the time.