Juvenile loons

Loons are seafaring birds, a member of the Gavia family, indicating that they are awkward on land. They resemble a large duck, with webbing between their toes. In general they are black and white, with a little grey on their heads & necks and white bellies. They feed by swimming across a lake, spot their lunch by sight, and suddenly up-end, diving under to grab their prey. Juvenile loons have a distinct call they make to signal other Loons, especially those of the opposite sex. It sounds like this—

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/13/Loons.ogg

There isn’t anything quite like sitting on a dock on a New Hampshire lake, listening to the evening cry of the Loon. It calms the soul and draws one back to a simpler time where the sounds and movements of the natural world held such restful, tranquil majesty.

By contrast, a number of people with whom I have crossed paths could also be designated as juvenile loons. They have never quite grown up. It is not their playfulness or zest for life at issue; those characteristics are wonderful. It is a sense that they do not want to grow up. They only want to play; their life is split between earning just enough money so that they can play, or throw themselves into gaming, or collect things they cannot afford. They have never quite owned up to the responsibility they need embrace for their own lives. This is especially catastrophic when others must pay the price—parents, spouses, and children. Being a unremitting juvenile is not a life option.

The word Loon is a North American derivative from the Olde English lumme, meaning lummox, clumsy, or awkward. We have all crossed paths with people who just don’t seem to fit in, or who are obviously uncomfortable in social situations— proverbial bulls in a china shop. These people unsettle others, making conversation seem forced. Their lives seem to be a series of mishaps, one after another.

Some of these clumsy misfits can be retrained to be more socially appropriate:  some cannot.

The real issue is whether we can learn to honor and accept them as fellow human beings. This is no simple matter. It involves relinquishing condemnation, and forging a love out of loathsomeness. It means realizing that this juvenile could become a voice for justice: and this Loon a future leader.

All of us are at different levels, social strata’s, at different phases of our ability to contribute to the common good. This is how God would have us be— involved in the juveniles and loons of our society, while raising their status before God and men.

Have a nice week,

Gary

draw a line

Too many of us are not willing to take a stand on issues. We keep our observations and opinions to ourselves. We like to keep our options open and not commit to anything. We are unwilling to draw a line in the sand and boldly assert— HERE I STAND!

Why? What if we are wrong? What if our bold assertion must be withdrawn with a humble act of contrition— an apology; an admission that we did not get it right, that we failed!?!

The issue should be simply obvious. We have attached our self-esteem, our worth, our public “image” to our achievements. If we in some way must admit that we were wrong, we feel like we will be less of a person, or at least viewed that way by others. So it is the more cautious course to NOT take a stand, to NOT commit, to NOT reveal our beliefs or opinions about popular or critical issues. In a sense we decide to stand above the fray, aloof, outside of the ebb & flow of life, merely observing. True, it is safer. But is it life?

Lest we become a generation that will be remembered for its fear of definers, of commitments, of being mere observers of life, reflect on this query posed in the ancient writings of King David. The King proffers a primal question—

Lord, who may rest with you in your secure palace?

Who may reside with you on your holy mountain?

Part of his answer is— He who swears allegiance, even to his own hurt, and does now waver. Quite simply, he draws a line in the sand and stands firm, even if it brings harm to himself. Yes, capitulation, giving in, compromise, would be so much easier. But it is not in the character of someone who desires to stand in the presence of God…, and live for long.

Let your yes be YES: let your no be NO. Declare clearly and emphatically where you stand on issues, but always with sincere graciousness, congeniality, and resolve. You may be proven wrong later on. In that case, apologize with sincere graciousness, congeniality, and resolve to make it right. (Suggestion- A peace offering of tea or chocolate might also be acceptable.)

If a King offers advice to stand firm in the presence of God, may it be worth considering that drawing a line in the sand and insisting HERE I STAND with our fellow man might also be a wise social/professional posture? [Suggestion- Find a beach, a sand dune. Practice.]

[The rest of King David’s advice can be found in Psalm 15.]

Have a nice week,

Gary

spring cleaning

Chuck Marean

After much perpetual prodding from my wife I was guilted into facing the greatest challenge of my life— cleaning out my Study. Mind you, this is no small matter. Centuries of books line the walls like added insulation. When I gave myself to address the volumes of history I found copies of the US Constitution, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and papyri from the Library at Alexandria. In the dust collected I discovered micro-organisms which linked directly to the Big Bang. Together, my wife and I even found strands of hair from “the Missing Link.” (She mused if I might be shedding.) We decided that attempting to complete the task should be stretched out over a couple weeks to protect my delicately imbalanced psychological structure.

As I inhaled dust particles from before the last Ice Age it became apparent that a great battle was taking place. Deciding what should go and what could stay was hard enough; but it was more than that. I was at war with myself. I had to decide to let go of history, of meaningful parts of my very life that at one time were my very essence. Never mind that I held captive some of the most influential books ever written, even rare books! Some had to go: some could stay. I was re-experiencing The Agony and the Ecstasy as I dug deeper into the ancient manuscripts to determine if they held any significance for my present life-situation.

Letting go. Why do we have such a hard time with it? There’s safety in the past. Really!?! Do you know the saying—

Nothing is more responsible for the good old days

than the passage of time and a bad memory.  [Franklin Pierce Adams]

We hang on to our past because we fear the future. We neither want to live up to the demands of life NOW, nor face the challenges of an uncertain future. Uncertainty is frightening. No argument there. But what if…, what if, we could face it with less baggage? What if we let the past lie there, in the past? None of us can afford to rust on our laurels or go back to the way it used to be. The only choice before us is to learn from the past, to live in the present, and to plan for the future. We can do it with either anxious fear or anticipation and excitement.

Enjoying the present and trusting God for the future is a great beginning! But, unless you are an archeologist, hanging on to the past will only weight you down. It’s gone. Time for a little Spring Cleaning.

Have a nice week,

Gary

lilting opacity

Light. It illuminates whatever it touches…, mostly. [It can burn too.] Light clarifies, brightens, melts the cold, and pierces the darkness. Light is necessary for sight to work. It is necessary for organic life to grow on the surface of this small planet, dangling in space. Light shines! And it soothes all those basking in it to its radiance and warmth.

Solid objects block light— buildings, window shades, trees, and definitely mountains (unless you are standing on top of one, of course). Some people block light too. They block light coming into them— dense. They block light issuing from them— dark. There is something about them that dims the light around them and grows darker the closer we approach. To know them intimately is not to know them at all—their true self lies veiled somewhere within their shroud of darkness. They do little to shed light on the truth, on others, and even on themselves.

Opacity describes the capacity to block light or to allow it to shine through. Opacity diffuses intense light into a spectrum of gentleness that is soft to the touch, soothing the eyes, and caressing the beholder. It may be how the Lord God actually veils himself to us, protecting us from his grandeur. Lilting describes the ability of a musical score, a breeze, or a swaying motion, to lift the spirit, to grant it fleeting lightness and a whimsical feeling of soaring. It is the bearable lightness of being. Melding these two images into one presents us a visage of our ability to become vessels of light, lifting the spirits of others to pass through whatever darkness they may reside and to grasp the hope needed to rise above their personal mire, loss, pain, or emptiness.

We have a choice, you and I— to cloak the light granted to us in inner darkness, or to rise above our bitterness, grief, and regret, to allow that Light, infused within us by the Lord God Creator, to glow through every crevice of our being, thus drawing other people out of their own dark night of the soul. A note of warning:  light does have the power to burn as well. It may sear you to let your light so shine. So make sure that the source of your light is a friendly one. The Light may still singe you as it glitters and grows brighter; but, then again, some things have need to be burned away to make a way for the clear light to shine through.

Have a nice week,

Gary