Whatever is Pure - February 2010
Today it was the Beatitudes, or as others call it the "Be Attitudes". Again, I saw something I'd missed before. Today, the be-attitude that stuck out in my face was "blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted". This past week, the son of one of my high school friends died in a car crash. He was 28 years old. Also, this past week, a woman I went to college with was found dead in her apartment. I didn't know my high school friend's son, but I've seen pictures of him ... he was full of light and life. My college friend was one of those people that was just funny ... she was always (in college) thinking of ways to play practical jokes on others. To this day, I can't sing His Eye is On the Sparrow, without singing: "I sing because I have to" ... in our college choir I was in the alto section, as was my friend, and she always sang that in my ear.
Upon first learning of these deaths, I realized I didn't know my friend's son, and I hadn't spoken to my college friend in 30 years. And yet the news of these deaths hit me hard. For my high school friend, there was the empathy of knowing as a mother that the loss of a child would be the hardest to bear. When I read that beatitude this morning, that's what I wanted to share with her ... that those who mourn will be blessed with Comfort from One Who has known the loss of a child. This past year, with the help of social networking sites, I've gotten in touch with many old high school and college friends. The woman who died last week was one of the people I'd asked questions about to several of my college friends, but the ones I asked had not kept in touch with her either. I found out last week that she had suffered some pretty severe depression the last few years ..... hmmmm ... sounds familiar to me. Could we have comforted one another if we had still been in touch? Maybe. Maybe not.
So I've been in mourning this past week. And I've experienced the Comfort of my Father. Today is a new day. I'm thinking after reading this passage, that I need to be on the lookout for the following things: recognition of the poverty of my spirit on my own; opportunities to be gentle, rather than proud; when I feel hunger, let my hunger be for more of Him; ways to show mercy EVERY DAY; sighting of God in those around me; chances to be a peacemaker; to be able to stand firm in my faith, even if I am ridiculed for it.
I never told a soul. Far as I know, no one knows. Till now.
I didn’t plan on bailing out of Western Civilization and Physical Anthropology 101. But I found myself chugging down the I-8 in the exact opposite direction of Mr. Asmov’s lecture hall. To put this in context, it was one of two days I "played hooky" in my entire scholastic career. I’m more of the "nose-to-the-grindstone" type. Steady. Responsible. Reliable. As impetuous and impulsive as a gimpy snail in a molasses factory.
So why did I suddenly decide to do something as utterly uncharacteristic as spend a gorgeous sunny southern California day at Point Loma? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe I was tired of being "responsible and reliable." Maybe I was in a rut and wanted to stir some spontaneity into my schedule. Maybe I wanted to "carpe diem." Seize the day. Instead of the other way around.
It was a day worth seizing – wading, beachcombing, sand castle-building, soaking up some rays. Lunching under swaying palms. Sucking in huge chunks of salt-spiced sea spray. (Okay, I also finished two essays, a book report, studied for exams and updated my Day Planner to a year out. Nobody’s perfect.)
Know what I discovered on that hooky day at Point Loma? Playing hooky is fun. Delicious. I don’t remember diddly from most of my lecture notes, exams, textbooks or Day Planner, but I remember that "hooky day" like it was yesterday. There was something about seizing the day that was… soul-stretching. Refreshing. Recharging. Energizing. Effervescent.
I celebrate my fiftieth birthday in a few days. It feels weird. Like I should feel …. different somehow. Older. Wiser. "Mature." Whatever that means. On one hand I feel I’m way too young to be that old. I mean, my mom was fifty! On the other, it seems my half-century status is supposed to result in pearls of wisdom and sage sagacity. Kind of like a modern Oracle of Delphi.
Truth is, I’ve never gotten the hang of that oracle thing. Most of what I’ve learned and gleaned in my five decades isn’t all that earth-shattering: Put God first. Honor your parents. Love your spouse. Hug your kids. Work hard. Serve. Eat chocolate. They say "you’re only as old as you feel," which probably puts me somewhere in the Sesame Street demographic. Also, "age is all in your head". Or hair. Or hips. Or… joints?
But like I was saying, "the big 5-0" feels weird. Like I’m suddenly fair game for the other half of that famous "Titus 2" equation. Well. I’m not exactly turning cartwheels over that "older woman" bit. There are still plenty of other "olders" out there, thank you very much. If they’re real "olders," I’ll pass.
Maybe you know the type. They rehearse their daily litany of moans and groans, aches and pains with the regularity of day following night. They’ve kept records of all the people who’ve wronged them over the years. They’re gonna get even one of these days. Or they spend so much time resting on their laurels and looking back at "the good ‘ole days" that "carpe diem" would give them whiplash.
- Comparing kids, outfits, income and accessories so the other person always gets short shrift
What did the Lord Jesus say about this? Plenty. But an almost-fifty year favorite is John 10:10b:
"… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
In other words, carpe diem. Seize the day. Reach out. Restore. Get real. Laugh. Apologize. Play hooky once in a while. Grab your kids and scarf down that second banana split, guilt-free. (If you can’t find your kids or don’t have any, borrow some. Jesus did.)
While I’m hoping the cost of cake candles doesn’t break the bank this year, I have some regrets from the past 18, 262 days. Some shoulda-woulda-couldas. But I’ve never regretted that hooky day. Don’t tell anyone, but I sometimes wish I’d taken more.
A few things I can tell you from my perch here in the middle-age rafters is that raspberry white chocolate cheesecake tastes better when it’s shared. Lucy and Ethel in the bon-bon factory deserve an Emmy. Toothpaste can’t be squeezed back into the tube. It’s amazing how much less I know at age 50 than I did at 18. Family, faith and friends matter most. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And while sapphire-skied, sun-soaked days are perfect for playing hooky, carpe diem is for every day. Life’s too short not to.
© 2010 Kristine Lowder
I Have A Choice
I can choose to fully engage in the life God has given me or I can sit on the sidelines as a passive observer.
I am avid fan of the Winter Olympics and am thrilled this year that once again the Olympics will be held in Canada. As part of the preparation for the games, the Olympic torch is being carried across the nation, regardless of weather or terrain. The torch arrives in my city tomorrow and no doubt there will be extensive media coverage of its progress through the streets and avenues of Edmonton. I could choose to watch via television, nice and cozy, in my recliner and cheer on the torch bearers in the solitary comfort of my apartment. Or, as the torch bearer route passes right outside my high-rise, I could look out my bedroom window for a birds-eye view. I could use my binoculars and get a closer view and still stay nice and cozy and protected or I could put on a warm coat, a pair of gloves and head downstairs, walk out the door and be part of the action.
I must confess, the introverted side of me would much rather watch from from a distance. I might actually have to talk to those standing beside me as we line the route in anticipation of the torch. I might have to ask for people to move so I can maneuver my walker so I can see better. I might have to witness a couple squabbling beside me. I might be approached by the aggressive panhandlers who have invaded my neighbourhood as of late. Yes, I might have to admit I belong to the human race!
As I thought over my choices, I was reminded of a statement my pastor made in a recent teaching. I must paraphrase as I didn't have my laptop with me to make notes. She said. "You can either be just a covert of Christ or you can be a disciple -- a follower of Christ." To be a disciple of Christ requires action. It requires a conscious, long-term commitment to remain fully engaged. It means spending time with him, learning to hear his voice and learning to be consistently obedient to his direction. It requires that you be an active participant in Christ's purposes and strategies here on the earth among his people. You can't be a lone disciple of Jesus at least, you can't be one very easily.
Tomorrow, I will make my way down to the street and join in. I choose not to be just a spectator from afar.
This year, I choose to be a follower of Jesus, actively participating with Him and walking in the midst of his people, although it would be much more comfortable to be a passive observer of his works.
As Keith Green sang so many years ago ...
As of May 2012, "WHATEVER IS PURE" ARCHIVES will no longer be seeking submissions. As most authors and poets now have their own blogs, we noticed a significant drop in submissions over the past year and felt it was best to move on to other endeavors.