My doctor explained that people who are immunocompromised by certain specific conditions are also particularly susceptible to the more common opportunistic illnesses like colds and flus and the like. Not everything is the C-word these days. Some illnesses are just old fashioned temporary and non-life threatening conditions like mom used to fix with soups, juices, rest and forehead kisses to check your temperature.
I could have used a mom yesterday when I woke up with all the symptoms, no soup, no juice and lots of work deadlines awaiting my urgent attention. My temperature broke at some point during the night and while I’m still a world of hurt, I’m over the hump in my home office satisfying yesterday’s email requests of my coworkers.
It’s comforting to know I’ll survive this but I’m convinced those magical mom kisses are the real antidotes to healing at any age.
We get more than our share of odd and unusual folks at my church located in a highly traveled homeless neighborhood. Many show up at services looking for a hand up or a hand out and we’re happy to oblige and get them resources to begin their path out of a life of drugs and danger on the streets.
Today, during one of those conversations, a man asked me if I was ready to die today. I told him that was an unusual way of greeting someone when hi-how are you would’ve been just fine. But as I said, it’s sometimes a strange crowd. He pressed on with his greeting and I consented that if it was my day, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
For him, living on the street, I suppose it must be a question he asks himself more than once every morning so perhaps it was well-intentioned.
I invited him in and he was welcomed by everyone. I suppose that’s what I enjoy most here.
‘Come as you are’ is a real thing.
Driving around listening to podcasts, it became apparent that I need an alignment.
My tires are fine but the accumulated wisdom of some well-informed podcasters indicated some critical life trajectories are off, slowly dragging me out of my own lane and into directions and places I shouldn’t be traveling at my age and maturity.
Interesting how we can sense that uncompromising tug in one direction or another and you know things aren’t rolling on as ideally as they should.
Diet, money, sleep, how I spend my elective time, all just went enough right or left of center to make a perceptible difference which I fear, without a realignment, could easily send me off roading on paths for which I am not designed nor well-suited.
For some, this may sound like a labored metaphor of a perfectionist splitting hairs but living by higher-than-average standards was something I was taught from a very young age. Moreover, living life according to a singular mission cues you to the ever so slight variations from that mission, demanding corrections to keep you on course.
So, I got home and had a chat with my Mechanic.
The perks of being beautiful are undeniable.
By nature’s good genes or by other more costly means, life usually works in their favor. While the eye of the beholder is a factor, the result is generally the same. Handsome and pretty, (maybe a little of both these days) they hold an edge in most of their endeavors and advantages in life for which the rest of us slave to earn. Seems a bit unfair and privileged but it’s the way of the world–which brings me to my point.
This world of ours preaches standards unrealistic for most of us, yet we take the bait each morning spending ungodly amounts of time, product and money on a meaningless move from maybe a 5 to a 6 and a half on a good day. We put more effort into our outer appearance than we often devote to our own inner peace about who we are.
You were born with the gift of being truly beautiful in all the ways it matters most.
I’d like to think
That all my friends
Who’ve met their ends
Caught flights to the heavens
And into the arms of a loving God
Now walk their streets of gold in wait for others like me.
I’d like to think
The best of them all
That it wasn’t the fall
Which took them down
To that fiery second death
For lack of belief in something and someone so much better.
I’d like to think
There are exceptions
And blessed receptions
For good people and nice folks
Who hoped that was enough
And paved their way with good intentions.
I’d like to think
I did my part
To win their heart
For One who saves
From eternal graves
To live the one and only life that truly matters.
I’d like to think
It all works out
And yet I doubt
It does or will for those who believed
Forever deceived by the lies of this world and now exist
And while I’d like to think I will miss you forever
no doubt I surely will.
Awake in bed alone in the early morning hours my mind wanders.
I realized a return to sleep was out of the question by then when I found myself compiling a mental list of regrets. Very poor use of time and an otherwise mentally healthy disposition I know, but I live on the edge occasionally and allowed it to continue a lot longer than I should have.
I wish I’d served in the Navy right out of high school when it was first offered me. I wish I’d gone into insurance or real estate early on and I’d be rich and retired by now. I wish I’d have beaten the hell out of Tony Franciosa when he called me out in 6th grade. I’d like to have been able to grow more than 12 hairs on my chest by now… And the list went on seemingly reciting itself for about 20 minutes. I don’t recommend it. Very few other morning mental gymnastics can ruin a day you haven’t even started yet.
The list kept growing as if it had lied dormant just under my skin much too long and I’d scratched exactly the spot it had been hiding. It was way more easy than it should have been.
Turned on the light, kissed my dog, and came to my senses. Said a brief prayer and laughed a little at myself for the waste of time and brain cells.
I’m fine. No damage done. The list of regrets dissipated with each sip of coffee, but the lesson that remained is how readily we can live in those regrets, should-haves and unrealized wishes with such ease, but can’t just as easily turn the tables and be thankful and happy with where we’ve landed in life so far.
By then I was here at the computer typing into a new Word document every fortuitous blessing, turns of events that once saved my life, and motives for living that usually accompany my first step to the floor out of bed each morning. I reminded myself I’m a positive guy, very slow to anger, and mentally astute as my list began filling the second page of the document which became my second prayer of thanks this morning.
I hadn’t considered myself among “the least of these” until starting over at 51 as an ex-felon working a $9/hour church janitor job apparently exceeded the qualifications.
But the surprise of a fifty dollar bill tucked in my back pocket by a passing stranger at Christmastime was eclipsed only by the words accompanying the gesture. “You’re making more of a difference than you know, young man.”
I’m not sure if I was more shocked being addressed as a young man or by the unexpected generosity of his acknowledgement of a stranger working a lowly invisible job during the busiest time of the church calendar. I’d just returned from plunging a TeenTime toilet full of poop and was en route across the courtyard to a hazardous cleanup in KidKare made by two siblings who’d had bad blueberries and Alpha Bits for breakfast.
I’d like to report our encounter was an interaction but his swift disappearance into the festive crowd of evening Christmas servicers was as angelic as his act of kindness. By the time I put my mop and pail to the ground and wiped my hand on my shirt to shake his hand, he was gone. I reached into my back pocket to find the gift he’d bestowed and while $50 was a helpful blessing this time of year, his words had been of much greater value.
Invisible people are all around us. Janitors, cashiers, clerks and other such name tags we rarely if ever read or better yet, take notice. Doing so need not cost 50 dollars or 50 cents, but only to know the words to their song on a not so silent night that hoped someone might care enough to notice and at the very least, tell them that in this world, they’re making more of a difference than they know.
We all walk daily on a ledge where balance and prayer keeps us horizontal and hope and love moves us forward, together making chance increasingly irrelevant.
People who want real change in this country put their money behind candidates with hopes but no promises it will actually happen. People who want real change in their city put their money behind causes of hope that both promise and create real change. The power of charity lies in its ability to be held accountable to actually deliver what politics only promises, and then usually at less than half the cost.
If more people actually lived
for that which they say they’d die,
they might die
but for thousands more to live
longer and better lives
where far fewer would need to die
for their beliefs.