Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Frozen, Jamestown, NC
I channel surfed to The Weather Channel this morning (OH, REALLY?) and was watching with my fingernails embedded in my favorite armchair as a car helplessly slid down a residential street and into the blade of a stopped snow truck. In this day of ubiquitous video cameras, there’s not much of interest that doesn’t go unrecorded these days. Apparently, some guy was literally standing on his porch about midway down the icy street and filming the action as it was passing in slow motion in front of his home. I can only guess that the folks who were driving too fast for the icy conditions were also watching their lives flash by in fast forward as they realized their morning was not going to end well!
It’s hard to say if these drivers were local or not. But you would think that someone local would know that a street with that long incline was treacherous in the freezing rain and snow. Or perhaps the driver was a young local that had only recently begun to drive on their own and didn’t yet have enough experience. The incident reminded me of a time in Nashville, Tennessee when both situations were literally on a collision course as fate and the weather would have it. I was on another business trip away from home in a relatively foreign city with three other road warriors. We had spent the night in a local motel and really didn’t know very much about the local environment. As we emerged from the motel at daylight, we noticed a light freezing rain in the air. The four of us walked to our rental car and I got in the right rear seat and quickly shut the door to keep out the elements.
Our driver proceeded to immediately turn left out of the motel parking lot and onto an access road that connected to a major four lane artery. However, since we had arrived late that night from the other direction, none of us realized that our path to the left was all downhill—and that road was now coated with a very deadly “black ice”. We immediately realized that the vehicle was skating out of control and our driver was pumping the brakes and shifting the transmission into every gear with absolutely no effect. Then we all looked ahead to the busy four lane intersection we were descending into as our stop light turned red and traffic filled the path ahead. We really had no choice but to “brace for impact”. And just as we approached the intersection, the driver’s side of the car slammed into a snow covered concrete median on our left. Once the snow had literally settled, we all gave a collective sigh of relief as we realized that we had survived a serious accident. That was the moment I placed my hand on the door handle so that I could exit the damaged vehicle. I had just cracked the door open and began to shift so that I could place my right leg outside when the door was loudly slammed shut! I didn’t understand what had just happened, but we had been broadsided by another out of control car driven by a young man traveling behind us. Needless to say, my leg would have been severed if he had arrived only a few seconds later. The rental car was totaled, but by the grace of God, the timing spared a certain life changing tragedy for which I’ll always be thankful.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Rock 'N Roll, Jamestown, NC
Elvis Presley liked to give away rather expensive presents to folks in his circle and I’ve read that one of his favorites besides Cadillac’s was jewelry with the inscription of “TCB”. His mantra in life was “Taking Care of Business” and I’m sure he was under a lot of stress to do just that with one sold out concert date after the next and the need to be on his game for every one of them. Now, I’ve never considered Elvis to be one of my spiritual leaders in life, but as a child of the 50’s I’ve always liked his music. I think TCB not only applies to work, but to the personal and spiritual aspects of life as well. When any one of these becomes out of balance with the rest, problems usually surface. Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable, and we just need to creatively find a way to move along and keep things between the ditches.
I recall years ago that I had hit an unusually long stretch of time where I was constantly traveling away from home on business. That was tough on my family and it was tough on me. But I also recognized that one of my key responsibilities was to take care of my family. I wouldn’t be doing that if I lost my job by refusing to be out in the world where my services were needed at the time. One of my business associates once challenged me by stating that I was missing some key events in my daughter’s life. I thought about that and then responded that “Yes, I’ve regrettably missed a few of those first steps, but I fully plan to be present when she walks across the stage to accept a college degree”. And by the Grace of God, both my wife and I were there to see her receive that degree with honors a number of years later. Nobody ever said that life was easy, but it’s doable by the GOG and TCB.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Deep Space Nebula, Hubble Telescope
Scientists have coined the term “deep time” to better help us human beings get our minds around the concept of the fourteen billion years or so that have possibly transpired since our Creator God spoke the heavens and earth into existence. Deep time is analogous to “deep space”, the vast expanse of our universe and beyond. We humans first began to comprehend relative time to position a sequence of events such as the sunrise and then the sunset. The concept of absolute time followed as we began to methodically track the duration of events in numerical terms such as the twelve hour passage of time from midnight to high noon, as it relates to our perspective with the sun from our planet earth. The concept of time is one devised by mankind so that we’re not late for time consuming meetings. Our creator is timeful and isn’t bound by time. The concept of eternity is also hard for us mere mortals to get our mind around. Time for us is very real and very temporal.
Richard Rohr writes in his book Falling Upward that “Once a person moves to deep time, he or she is utterly one with the whole communion of saints and sinners, past and future. In deep time, everybody matters and has his or her influence, and is even somehow ‘present’ and not just past.” Our creator experiences His creation through every life force in deep space and time. We have the privilege of living now on the leading edge of that deep time and we’ve been created in His image out of the Big Bang’s star dust to collaborate in how this creation continues to evolve. We’ve been endowed with the free will to participate in the process of creation’s expansion or destruction. We can simply join the legions of apatheists and do nothing either way or we can actively choose to leave a legacy of growth and goodness. And at the end of our journey, our physical being reverts to the star dust of creation as our spiritual being becomes one with all consciousness in deep time.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Homeless, Chicago, IL
Have you ever been listening to a broadcast or reading an article that characterizes a situation as “a sign of the times”? Ubiquitous home foreclosures are a sign of the times given the greed surrounding irresponsible lending practices in recent years. Global warming and strong earthquakes seem to be a sign of the radically changing environment of this planet we inhabit. Unprecedented violations of trust in major sports programs are a sign of the uncontrollable influence that key coaches now wield in these programs. The revolutionary decline of the printed word is a sign of the rapidly developing technology of the electronic media of our time. The overall decline of the American standard of living is a sign of the rapid movement of jobs off shore and the subsequent improvement of other cultures to create a world economy that is moving toward an overall average.
I was recently listening to a “best of 2011 interviews” show with Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun who wrote the bestselling book Dead Man Walking. Prejean had committed her life to social justice for the down trodden among us. Her involvement began as a spiritual advisor to a man on death row whose brother had admitted to the killing for which he was sentenced to be executed. After his wrongful death she devoted her life to abolishing capital punishment and even founded an organization that advocates for victim’s families. Her comment that caught my attention during the interview was “To find God, we must read the signs of our times”. It seemed to go hand in hand with an observation that there have been many disciples of God over the years, but only we can be disciples or advocates for our time. Every generation seems to believe that the times they live in are the most challenging ever in human history and they may be correct. Or perhaps every generation is confronted with a new set of issues that simply mirror their unique times, since human nature doesn’t seem to have changed much over the years. And if we involve ourselves in the issues that are profoundly and adversely affecting the common good and work to right the wrongs in the world, we may just find a divine partnership in the process.