The holidays have always been for me, as most people, a time of reflection on life. It has to do for a couple of reasons . . . okay, maybe three.
The first reason is that it stands as a marker for the passing of time. If September 22 has no meaning to you (for example no one's birthday) then there are no memories to conjure up by the date. But of course, Thanksgiving and such special days create an experience that is like holding a mirror in front of another mirror. If you align them just right you can see a tunnel of repetitive images dimming back the further you go.
The second trigger for life reflections is that the fact you have family around. As I’m typing here right now I am surrounded by three of my five kids and none of them live at home anymore. You can’t be around family without thinking of the past.
The last factor of the perfect storm is having time. In normal life I don’t have time to reflect much. I think that is why most people are addicted to busyness . . . because they don’t want to remember. If the old times were good, it is painful to know that they are gone forever. If they were bad, you want to forget them.
Pictured here are my aunt Helen (the smaller girl) and her big sister Rosa. Helen has been like a second mom to me. She lived with us for part of our life and was always very close. She is 82, lives with my 89 year-old mother now and she (my aunt) is in poor health. But recently I came across several photos of her and her big sister.
I never had the chance to meet Rosa. She, like her mom and other sister, succumbed to TB and die a slow and painful death in the 1930s (as teenagers). My aunt Helen watched each one disappear, almost literally. I don’t know how she has such a positive attitude on life with so many losses under her belt (many I haven’t mentioned).
Another marker this season is the fact that my father-in-law is quite ill. Denise flew home last night to be with him. He seems to have improved from death’s grips to being communicative again this morning. But one can not think about him without thinking about the memories of his better days. Denise of course has much more than I do. But I watch my dad die ten years ago and I know how it is to go through this.
But at times like this, as you sense your own immortality and the passing of time, you pause and ask, “Am I on the right path? Am I doing what I should be doing in life?” These are hard questions to answer. I’ve known men who asked them, then bought a Harley Davison and took off . . . literally, never looking back, never coming back to their families. My desire to do that right now is quite low . . . although when life was difficult a couple of times (a decade ago and before that, two decades ago), it was tempting.
But this brings me back to today and sitting her with my kids and cherishing ever second that we have. I can smell them, reach over and touch them and talk to them. Someday, they will be flying home to either my deathbed or my funeral. The time between now and then will fly by.
On a closing note, I stayed awake last night in my big empty bed. It is harder to fall asleep when Denise is not there. So I checked my e-mails and started to explore the world of the Internet. When I was forced, by a snow storm, to stay on the mainland earlier this week, I had the same problem with sleep. That night, I spent two hours studying the entire geological history of the earth. I never knew that they believe that they were three super continents, rather than just one.
Last night I went back and tried to catch up on Imonk a bit. I read Jeff Dun’s Saturday ramblings. Once again, he brought up Keith Wheeler, the guy who has been carrying a cross around the world for the past . . . I forgot, 10-15 years? So then I jumped to Keith’s web page and read his entire story and looked at all of his photos. I know that for the majority of Christians, Keith is a hero. I have some trouble with the story, especially when he joined forces with Benny Hinn to make a DVD.
In my opinion, I put Benny Hinn (in the spirit of Dante) in the inner most circle of Hell, as one of the most despicable people who are alive today. A year ago, my old church had a fall campaign using material written by Benny’s right hand man. I sent an e-mail to the entire church that I was having a very hard time taking the project seriously knowing that the author worked closely with Benny. There IS guilt by association. No one else in the church saw a problem except that I was being a trouble maker. But there were other things that Keith says that troubles me. I was going to blog on it today, but, to avoid sounding like the negative person again, I will just let it go. If you know me, I will simply say that Benny lives up on the 80-90th floor above reality. I had the sense that Keith lives on the 40th. I admire people down near the ground floor the most. I will let it rest at that because I may be alone in my perspective.
Speaking of Jeff, I guess he is one of those people who communicate via silence. He asked for my manuscript a couple of months ago. But if I e-mail him about it(and I have his private e-mail address now) he never responds. If I ask him a non-manuscript question, he immediately responds, so I know the address is good. But I’ve never understood people who use silence to communicate. I have no idea what that means. But after our disagreement over the nature of the call of God, I have a sense, like all other publishers and agents, we are not on the same page either.
Lastly, I added a new program on this blog. The most frequented posting appears at the upper right hand corner. It can change from day to day. This is an automatic function. I was a bit surprised when my very personal story about my anxiety appeared and stayed. It is the most read. I wonder what that means. It is not the posting that I would want most people to read because it does paint me in a bad light. But maybe it says something about a hunger in Christians to hear stories about other Christians that aren’t so successful.
I wasn’t planning on writing today, but I wanted to savor this moment in Starbucks with my daughter on my left, Ramsey across from me and Quentin sitting diagonally from me. I wanted to sit and savor their smells (between the smell of espresso) their voices and their presence.