Moose Mug Irony and Other Points to Ponder


“Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Once when I was on vacation in Lake Tahoe, I decided to spend my hard-earned money in the best way possible, by entering a tourist trap gift shop and buying myself a set of four moose mugs. I’m not talking about the clear glass moose mugs like in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. (“Is your house on fire, Clark?” “No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.”) These mugs were tall, mustard yellow and had big moose silhouettes in black, very Lake Tahoe. [insert ironic tone] I had to have them. I just LOVE irony, plus anything that helps me tell a story. 🙂 As it turns out, life is full of ironic twists and turns, worst case scenarios, and don’t-try-this-at-home moments.

When you become a parent, you find out many ironic things about people. I was a perfect parent, once upon a time, in my dreams, before I became a parent. You know the type? Yeah, well I’m sorry. When we have a situation we are usually much more understanding toward others facing the same situation. When we have no idea what we are talking about, we sure have a lot to say, don’t we? Ours is ALWAYS a special circumstance, explanation, convenient reason…….everyone else has NO excuse. I’ve had my share of “special circumstances”. It’s easy to fall back on these as reasons why we can’t. Sooner or later though, we will meet someone with enormous obstacles and serious life challenges, and this person will be more than a survivor. This person will succeed spectacularly and make us feel like whiny schmoes.

There is the irony of the people who walk the red carpet and have more than a lot of people would ever dream of having, but live such dreadfully unhappy lives. Others with maybe not as much in the way of worldly possessions feel rich in friends and family and the simple joys of being alive. Our family has been hit quite hard along with many others during these financial adjustment times. We’ve had to live with friends and family. This week, I am sleeping in my own bed and using my own dresser, which I haven’t been able to do in over a year and a half. We also finally have our own washer and dryer. I am feeling very thankful as I listen to the swishing and tumbling of these machines, look out my own kitchen window, or lay the baby down to nap (safely bolstered with pillows) on my own bed. Household chores might be a source of stress for some, but for those without a home of their own, having their own floor to sweep is indeed a blessing.

The childless long for noses to wipe and diapers to change. Orphans long for parents to tell them what to do and get in their business and care. Those battling cancer see yet another birthday as a celebration of life and not something to dread. Irony, it turns out, is everywhere. With the proper perspective, however, we can all see things in a more positive, if ironic, light.

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Echos of Eden


Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

– Nothing Gold Can Stay, by Robert Frost

When spring rolls around every year, I find myself wanting a garden. Not just any garden will do, either. I want a magnificent Eden, full of the vast array and color spectrum contained in nature. I want plants to look at and plants to eat, preferably all of them beautifully arranged and accessible.  I can definitely relate to Tolkien’s Hobbits when they are described as loving all things that grow. There is just something so satisfying in watching things that you have planted grow from seeds into full maturity as plants or various kinds. My son once grew a single tomato plant from seed that was still growing,  producing and flowering at our 3500 ft elevation when we first started getting frost. (It was a Pompeii tomato, in case you were interested.) Gardening is interesting for all ages. Is it maybe because we began that way?

There are a lot of folksy sayings about when to plant this or that, how to tell if your garden is doing well, when to harvest, etc. Growing food, flowers, or any kind of plant really, just seems to be party of our basic nature. There is such a huge movement toward going green, getting back to nature, organic self-sustaining living, and on and on. At the same time that we are moving away from older ways of doing things and modernizing, it seems many people are realizing the wisdom of looking back to former generations’ wisdom and ways.

It seems to me that if we are realizing the wisdom of doing certain things for ourselves again because it worked well once and still works now, we might want to consider many of the other things that were once standard operating procedure. Things like loyalty, honesty, fairness, justice, and unselfishness might seem outdated or passe, but these values were once just the way things were. It was just the way people behaved. You could count on it like the sun rising in the morning. Perhaps, instead of bemoaning the cruelty and insane selfishness that seems to be the daily diet served up by the evening news, you can be someone who makes a difference for the better. Maybe, if we all lived our lives in parallel to another old-fashioned concept known as the Golden Rule, no matter what the color or preferences or beliefs of the people you encounter everyday whether in person or online (those online avatars represent actual people just like you and me, after all); maybe if we remembered that our ears were made to always be open, but our mouths can actually close from time to time (and should); maybe if we listened to our grandmothers and Thumper’s father “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”; if we all acted the way we say we want everyone else to…..we would all live in a much happier world overall.

The next time you are tempted to think of something as “old-fashioned” and therefore no longer valid, remember that many of the things we are missing in this world were voted out, modernized, or made unpopular a little bit at a time, until we all learned the bittersweet lesson to be careful what we wish for. Sometimes we get it, and it is a good thing, true. Hand-in-hand with getting our way are the consequences of getting our way, however; and all the political filibustering and campaigning and white-washing and spin-doctoring in the world cannot make things different (in reality) than they actually are. Until we reach a day when “the former things are passed away”, we might just take a look backward from time to time at some of the tried-and-true and see what we’ve been missing.

At any rate, I went online and ordered more seed and plant catalogs than I can possibly use this season. We are in our own home at last, only renting, but nonetheless I want to be able to dream my Hobbity dreams and plan and imagine my perfect garden. I always daydream about a space MUCH bigger than the one I am actually able to use. I don’t ever accomplish the things I imagine, but I go on imagining all the same. Maybe a lot of us just need to find a place like Eden inside of our imaginations where we can go and walk when things get a little too modern and impersonal for comfort.

Thus says the Lord God: In the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities I will [also] cause [Israel’s] cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the desolate land shall be tilled, that which had lain desolate in the sight of all who passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it. – Ezekiel 36:33-36

 

 

Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19977#sthash.Wt06AMf6.dpuf

A Candle in the Wind


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. – Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night, Dylan Thomas

There are a lot of things which can snuff out the light in our lives. One of the most destructive is guilt. We become manipulated into doing and saying things we’d rather not. We lie to others to make them see us a certain way. We even lie to ourselves. “I’m not worthy.” “It’s no big deal.” “They didn’t mean to hurt me.” “They’re only trying to help.” “I owe them.” Relationships are difficult enough without the bitterness of guilt poisoning things. We sometimes just need to be brave enough to be honest with ourselves and others. Head games are for chumps.

So, how does avoiding guilt tie in with all this talk of light and candles, etc? The joy we bring to the journey is our light. It is very difficult to get light from a snuffed candle. Anything we allow in our lives that makes us continually unhappy will logically make it very difficult for us to be a blessing to anyone around us. A candle doesn’t just spontaneously light itself! As tenuous as our feelings of happiness and cheerfulness can be (and we cannot just chase warm fuzzies all the time), we have to take concrete steps to eliminate those nasty candle snuffers as much as possible. The whiny friend, the complaining relative, the gossiping neighbor, the manipulative co-worker; these are all relationships that will snuff out our joy and make us ineffective as lights in this already-dark-enough world.

Be careful with you. You’re the best you that you’ve got!

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16

More Than Fine


TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real !   Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

The Psalm of Life – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

———————————————————————————

Sometimes we need a reboot. There are situations and circumstances that bring us down. People will disappoint us. We will fail. In life, we have to know there will be good with the bad. It’s all wrapped up together in the package called LIFE. As we adjust ourselves, recuperate, and pick up the pieces, we learn, improve our understanding, and grow. As many people have experienced first-hand in the last few years, financial troubles can lead to desperation, despair, and giving up on dreams once held dear. It’s not that we can’t undergo trials without falling completely to pieces. There are times, however, when the road we attempt to take on the way to our dreams actually leads us nowhere. We actually need these detours to lead us to the places we need to go in order to be ready for the grand dreams we all hold in our hearts.

Maybe you’ve forgotten your dreams, or laid them down due to outside pressure or difficulty. Perhaps you’ve come to the conclusion that real life has no place for your dreams, or maybe even gotten the mistaken idea that the magical fantasy land of your dreams holds no place for you! I need to let you know right now that as long as there is life, there is also hope.

You are not finished. You are not defeated. Every moment is another chance, another choice. Don’t give up. You can do this!

“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?— and treat your servants with kindness for a change. Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long. Make up for the bad times with some good times; we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime. Let your servants see what you’re best at— the ways you rule and bless your children. And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!”

Psalm 90:11-13 (The Message)

The Courage to Do Things Differently


“We all have different desires and needs, but if we don’t discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled.”

 Bill Watterson  (American Author of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes, b.1958)

You may or may not be familiar with the campy 80’s horror movie, The Stuff. In it, a delicious marshmallow cream-like substance was found bubbling up from the earth. It became all the rage, replacing all other food. However, something strange happens as people begin ingesting more and more of “The Stuff”, and I got this straight from IMDB, “But the sugary treat rots more than teeth when zombie-like snackers begin infesting the world.” Seriously, this movie is silly, and fun, and a little bit concerning, if you can get past the cheese factor. I was put in mind of it this morning because of the fact that I was eating vanilla yogurt and granola, and the yogurt reminded me that it is definitely a better idea to be in charge of what you eat, instead of what’s eating you. *chuckle*

But I digress…the point is that we all like different things, have different styles in everything from home decor to music to the color we paint (or don’t) our toenails. The world is made up of a kaleidoscope of different kinds of people. We don’t even look the same. In spite of the loud and obnoxious message that is pumped into our conscious minds at all hours by a greedy consumer industry, we are NOT happier when we are just like everyone else.

I have a friend who lived, like I did, in a small home town, grew up, went to college, had some bad relationships, and is now working and deliriously happy in South Carolina, working as a nurse in a cancer treatment center. I have other friends who have traveled the world to find happiness right back where they started in Quincy, California, a little logging town, a couple of hours away from Lake Tahoe. The point is, we all have to find the life that makes us happy, and go out and do the work necessary to live it. Of course I mean our best, positive life here; no one should pursue a life of robbing banks, etc.

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.

Jean Piaget (born on August 9, Swiss psychologist and pioneer in the study of child intelligence, 1896-1980)

It is actually very exciting when you think about it. Your life has the potential to contain all kinds of adventures and experiences! You could start today to work toward getting your pilot’s license, or take dance lessons, or learn to sing opera, or build a house, or speak Russian, or ANYTHING!! Your life can be as rich in actuality as your imagination will allow. There is no reason to hang back and bide your time waiting for “someday”. The main reason isn’t even because life is shorter than we think it is, although that’s true. The main reason is that this is YOUR life. The sooner you take responsibility for it, the better you will be at planning and making decisions that affect it.

Instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, or Davises, or the Kennedys, STOP and really think about what you want in YOUR life. When you get to know them, you might be surprised to find that the Joneses and Davises and Kennedys are trying hard to keep up with someone else. Thus lives the rat race, all of us, coveting things we have no idea what to do with, in order to have a life someone else doesn’t even want, chasing our tails. As Susan Powter would say, “STOP THE INSANITY!!” Yes, I went there. Really, she had a lot of good points.

You were made YOU on purpose. There is no need to change that or feel ashamed. You don’t have to spend your life trying to be someone else, and you SHOULDN’T. Trust me, you’ve got your hands full with the one life you’ve got.

This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
 who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
 The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
    the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise. Isaiah 43 : 16-21

Weathering the Storm That Never Was


“The cyclone had set the house down gently, very gently – for a cyclone—in the midst of a country of marvelous beauty. There were lovely patches of green sward all about, with stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits. Banks of gorgeous flowers were on every hand, and birds with rare and brilliant plumage sang and fluttered in the trees and bushes. A little way off was a small brook, rushing and sparkling along between green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl who had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Sometimes, we are beset by very real problems in life, things that tempt us to worry, fret, and fear what tomorrow may hold. Every human has things that they fear. It is only natural. There are, however, things we fear that are harmless, pointless, illogical, and basically all in our heads. I’m talking about those things that we work ourselves up about and when finally faced, turn out to be no big deal. It’s in those cases when the dread beforehand is worse than the actual thing.

Sometimes it could be test results from the doctor, or a confrontation at work, or a family holiday with your least favorite relative. We all have our oh-no-not-agains. Sometimes we begin to act as though the thing we fear is inevitable, and actually cause it to happen. We might treat ourselves badly and squander our health or money or time and have bad news we might not have had if we had been more sensible. We might be belligerent, hostile and plain old hard to get along with at work, which pretty much guarantees us a confrontation with someone. We might even pick a fight with a relative as we think we’re just being defensive of ourselves and our territory, but what if that relative has undergone some major life crises which have altered that abrasive person you once knew them to be?

I have often feared the storms that never came to be. People, it turns out, are on average just as eager to get along and have peace as we are. Most of the time, we make monsters out of mice and make ourselves miserable in the process.

It might not hurt to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes…no not literally, those stiletto heels are murder. If you can manage to take one someone else’s perspective you may see the situation or issue from an angle you never considered before. You may find a new understanding of them, a new appreciation. You may even find a friend where you anticipated only finding a fiend with claws bared, ready to cut you to ribbons. Take heart, your boss, relative, doctor, grocer, mailman, and neighbor are all just people like you with many hidden layers of hopes dreams and cares behind their greet the day face. Next time, don’t go looking for an opponent where you just might find another teammate.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ” Matthew 6:24-34

My Favorite Things


Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths.

Poetry is a journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly the air.

Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations.

Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.

Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring.

Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower.

Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it.

Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.

(Ten Definitions of Poetry) Carl Sandburg

Most of my favorite things have to do with people. For example, the poem above reminds me of a teacher/friend I had when I was 16. She took me on a day trip on horseback and we had poetry and tea and a memory that will last a lifetime. Now, I know next to nothing about horses. I’m not sure where they keep their withers or their pastern or much else except that you have to remember to clean out their hooves. I do love to see movie scenes where horses run, like Hidalgo or The Man From Snowy River. I don’t have to understand them to appreciate their beauty or the fact that even today they are incredibly valuable and useful animals all over the world. Sometimes we love things without being able to explain why.

I love going to the river to swim and taking along a picnic, preferably in a nice big ice chest. I love camping and going to camp. I love music festivals and county fairs. I love to dig my feet into the sand at the beach, dry or wet. I love yogurt and granola. I love Willow Ware china. I love making people laugh until milk shoots out their noses. I love to listen to birds chirping outside. I love the narrative voices of James Earl Jones, Charleton Heston, and Burt Lancaster. I love pretty much anything Jim Henson, pretty much.

Storytellers have always been special to me, like the school librarian, Mrs. Schramel, when I was in second grade. She read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the Peanut Butter Sandwich and many many others to my class. I credit her a great deal for my continued love of books and literature, especially children’s literature. Adult fantasy is so often cruel, tawdry, and scandalous instead of fun, inspiring, and heart-warming. I have enough ick in my real life and past. I don’t need it in my entertainment, thank you.

Recently, I was also reminded of my longtime love of the Anne of Green Gables movies and books. (I even found the soundtrack on YouTube.) All of these things that I enjoy so much are connected in some way with people that have been or are in my life. Of course you can’t always carry all these things around with you like a junk man with an overflowing cart. Things can serve to remind us, but they cannot be an end in themselves.

I think maybe the people featured on the show Hoarders are just getting it backwards. They long to have the memories, but think that they must hold on to all the things as well. Our minds can hold many more relationships and memories than our houses can hold things. What do we want with so many things anyway? That is a lot to take care of all the time! Is it not so much easier to hold onto the people in our lives, and carry them with us in our hearts, where they will never grow old or die? Hoard your memories, my friends, but never your things. There are always more than enough good reasons to give them away.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew  6 : 19-21

Once More for the Seats in the Back


“Temper is a weapon that we hold by the blade.”

James Matthew Barrie (Scottish Dramatist and Novelist best known as the creator of Peter Pan, 1860-1937)

One of the best ways that I know of truly embarrassing yourself is by losing your temper in front of other people. Let us, for conversation and speculation’s sake, say that yesterday was such a day for me. Let us suppose that I lost my temper. Let us suppose that I lost it royally and spectacularly. I had gone past irritated and into full rage. It was the kind of rage that pulses in your head and face and makes your eyes feel like they are screaming. Its when you are so in the sway of your emotions that you are irrational, often incoherent, and completely unpredictable. Yeah, that kind of temper. Another way to put it would be to say that I threw a spoiled brat temper tantrum, as an adult, which is simply inexcusable.

In our lives, we have countless opportunities to prove to the world and ourselves exactly what kind of person we really are on the inside. I have a bad temper. I usually do my best to avoid confrontation of any kind, because I carry a vague recollection of this fiend that lurks inside of me. I can actually brag slightly and say that I have gotten much better at keeping my temper in check than I used to be. There are times, though, when the demon of temper is able to wrestle free and the eruption of venom that is poured out as a result is stomach turning.

Irritability is immaturity of character. If you are subject to being cross and unpleasant with others for no apparent reason, you need to come face-to-face with the fact that you are thinking too much of yourself. After all, your feelings are not the most important things in this world.” Anon.

It’s not like I have never had a temper tantrum. I was a child. I was, and am I have to admit, fairly selfish and self-centered. We’re all wired this way. It is as common in humankind as it is undesirable. Its one of those things that the most successful in life have learned to overcome, for the most part. In fact, the people I think of as absolutely classy and “together” do not lose their temper in front of other people on even a semi-regular basis.

Temper, naturally, is not the only short-coming that can embarrass us when on public display. Greed, jealousy, gluttony, pettiness, lying: you know, those things we’re supposed to be over and done with as mature adults; these things can ruin our self-satisfied lives. Any one of these things is the elephant in the room when your boss goes off on a tirade and doesn’t apologize, when your spouse spends a little too much at the store and tries to hide it, when someone drives into the parking lot in a new car and the heads of others turn and whisper. Of course other people may be guilty of these things, but never us, right?

“To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others”

Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha (Founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

I have never known, or even known of, someone who had attained perfection. In fact, for all our days, however many there may be, we will be beset by failings that will continually humble and abase us. Additionally, the more we fight against the truth of this, the more we will be detoured back again around the same old movie loop of embarrassment, hurt, and eventually ruin. Whether or not we may consider ourselves a “quick study”, the majority of human beings are exceedingly slow when it comes to learning hard life lessons.

Thankfully, for all our sakes, there are endless opportunities for us to behave in increasingly mature ways as we overcome the barriers that have held us back from being truly trustworthy, humane, and happy. Thankfully, there is One with forbearance almost as infinite as He is; and above all else, He wishes for us to be the best that we can be. So sit up, back there, and pay attention! Your next test of character is not far away.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Romans 7 : 15-25

Making Peace With Frankenstein


“Oh! no mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.” Mary Shelly, Frankenstein

Frankenstein is a character that is familiar to many of us, even if we have not actually read the original story (it’s in my to-read list on my Nook) ; and we have come to recognize the many variations this creature has taken over the years. We see the stitched forehead, the bolts in the sides of the neck, the stiff posture, and we immediately recognize who is being portrayed. Many things have been written and filmed about this creature. Sometimes, Frankenstein is misunderstood, sometimes feared. Oftentimes, Frankenstein is hunted with the goal to destroy this aberration, this perversion of nature.

For the many people who have seen this as a sad story, the reactions are different; compassion, regret, sorrow, and pity may move us to wish the story ended differently for the creature, and he had been given another chance, or a different beginning. Perhaps, we feel sympathy, because we see a little bit of this creature in ourselves. After all, we have an innate ability to goof things up; and in all likelihood, life has encouraged the tendency in us to be less than wonderful. We lost our temper that one time…We let an opportunity pass us by…We let that person slip out of our lives…We messed up…We got it wrong…We failed.

BUT!! It doesn’t have to be the end of the world! We are ALL that we are, but we are ONLY what we are. We have the potential to be amazing OR disappointing. Human beings have to accept the good and the bad, because that’s what it is. The amazing thing is that we don’t have to go it alone and stump along incomplete for the rest of our lives. We can be restored to wholeness and soundness. There is Someone who stands with His arms open, waiting to receive us in all our deformed awkwardness. All we have to do is to run to Him and fall into those arms. He loves us. He cherishes us. He longs for us to receive this amazing, shocking, undeserved love that He freely gives.

This person is Jesus, who died for us, and rose again. His act of love echoes through all of time, losing none of its power as each generation faces the choice to accept Him or reject Him.

You and I are Frankenstein; but we need to accept the fact of our brokenness and need before we can be healed.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:5-17

Seasons


There is a song by David Bowie called “Changes”. (If you are curious, or don’t know them, the lyrics are here: http://www.lyricsdepot.com/david-bowie/changes.html) There is also a song that most of us know, by The Byrds called “Turn, Turn, Turn”, which is actually referencing a Bible passage from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, in which King Solomon muses on The Meaning of Life. (Did you know that question is actually answered in the Bible?) All of these things taken together remind us that life is full of change as well as seasons of change……and seasons that stay the same.

It may seem contradictory, but we all it to be true that life has long stretches of sameness, which can be interrupted at anytime by punctuations of SURPRISE-AWESOME!!!…..as well as SURPRISE-TRAGEDY!!! Mentioning this to people can sometimes get you into a little more than hot water…..more like hot cheese fondue! If someone is enduring (or having fits) during a trial or unplanned-for surprise in their life, they may feel you are tossing out pat answers and band-aid solutions while they are in the middle of very real pain and shock. It may help to remind them that you have (and you have, or very shortly will, trust me) experienced this same sense of being suddenly upside-down, underwater, backwards, and inside-out all at the same time. You couldn’t find your footing. You had trouble even drawing breath. You forgot about many other priorities that seemed rather unimportant in comparison.

As frightening and unnerving as such unpleasant life surprises can be, perhaps more difficult to bear up under are the long periods of waiting, of working, of hoping, of paying dues and paying it forward, while everyone else and their fat, stuffed camel seem to be getting ahead, making the grade, overcoming, over-achieving, and having their grandest life dreams realized. Let’s step back at that and take another look…..everybody and their fat, stuffed camel but you. It’s all fine and good when all your friends and you have brand new cars, or bigger, better houses, or dream jobs, or trophy wives (or husbands, or kids), or a shiny new BBQ; but take out the “and”, substitute a “but”, “aaaaand, you’ve got trouble my friends, right here in River City! Trouble with a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P” and that stands for…” Sorry, I really like that movie. But you get my point; it is hard to be happy for other people when they get want you want and you don’t. It might help us all if someone puts things into perspective a kindergartner would appreciate and tells us that there are lots of things in the world, enough for every single one of us. Of course, adults like us are much too mature for silly things like jealousy. Right?? OK, moving on…

It might help, during those times, if you manage to remember that life has seasons of things. When I was younger and heard anyone start talking about “seasons of life”, I always pictured a dry desert floor during a long, hot summer, or a cold, harsh winter that stretched on and on and on…It can definitely feel that way when you’re in the middle of something that is hard to face, let alone overcome, move past, and accept that life goes on. Keep in mind that since the dawn of time, there has always been a sunset, then, after a while, there has always been a sunrise. In all of this, God has a purpose. Sometimes the waiting is to keep us from harm. Sometimes it’s the waiting a gardener does, waiting for a seed to grow. God has placed amazing things in each of us, whether we acknowledge Him or not. Your life is not finished until your death. There are so many seeds left to grow. What you’re going through right now is only a season.

Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. ~ Jeremiah 8:7