It has been 65 days since I last made an entry on this blog. For a good while prior to that it was a weekly exercise to which I looked forward with great expectation. But in June, the press of life, jobs, and responsibilities took their toll . . . and my pen fell silent.
Much has transpired in those 65 days.
My good friend with cancer is now (the oncologist says) in his final weeks, not to last even a month. My 20 year old niece tragically departed this life just 10 days ago. My aunt and uncle have both been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. My cousins are now having to face difficult and heart-breaking decisions and situations as they deal with their aging parents. And as I approach the one year anniversary of my mother’s death, others in her family are near death’s door, too.
I don’t think sobering is the term that describes the current situation adequately, although sobering it is. It is, indeed, a dose of life too large to swallow without choking. But swallow we will. For there is no other choice.
And finally . . . I have a day off to be with my thoughts, to ruminate on this life that is so fleeting. To try to put into words both the gravity and the incomparable beauty of this life we get to live.
For that is the truth of it, isn’t it? There is incomparable beauty all around us. But awareness of the eventual cessation of life reminds us of its gravity.
Embracing both views at once brings everything that matters into bold relief.
Relief is the sculptor’s way of distinguishing for the observer the objects that truly matter from the objects that do not. It projects the detail that might be lost to the viewer; it brings sharpness and definition to what is important to see. It thereby separates itself from what is inconsequential.
As I view the sculpting process around me, and in me right now, I am reminded of the simplicity in all this apparent complexity. Robert Fulghum was right in 1988 when he wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Of course, his comments mainly had to do with learning to share with others, playing fairly, getting enough rest, and learning to accept others because, in truth, we are all very much alike.
But as we make this journey we call life there are times when the clarity escapes us, when the weight of the world seems to be resting on our shoulders, when we seem to be walking the back trails of a desert that appears on no topographic map.
It is crucial how we view those times.
I was reminded just a week ago that it is in those times our character is being formed. That sometimes in obscurity our most valuable lessons are learned. The forging of our person is done in a furnace where the heat can be intense.
And it is in these times the bold relief is visible, the outlines are unmistakeable, the dross falls away.
Love. People. Forgiveness. Joy.
These are the things I see that remain. What do you see?