I am sitting in the office at home, looking out at a beautiful, spring morning. The air is cool. The trees are in full bud. The birds are singing at the top of their voice as they fly in and out of the morning mist. I love this time of year. So many building and gardening plans; my brain becomes flooded with ideas that float between the fanciful and practical. My biggest task is to refine those ideas to a place where the two sides coalesce. It is all part of the natural rhythms in our world continuing to show how we are all completely tied to this world we call home.
This week we had a sad event of loosing a dear friend of the parish. Ann had not been with us for a long time, but she became an integral part of our community with her smiling face and delightful comments around the daily routine of being with each other. Ann was at peace near the end, and the final prayers were done in the presence of Christopher, who is her oldest son and lives in Winnipeg. We streamed that event so that her other son and daughter-in-law could also participate. It was a very meaningful event, even though the entire process was so different.
As I worked through the concerns with the family, I found myself reflecting on the ways that God moves in our lives, allowing us to experience his presence. Every family brings both gifts and brokenness to the world. All of us can bring our gifts into the world in ways to build the community. It is the beauty that all of us can see and delight in. Yet, the truth is we also bring parts of ourselves that have not healed; that manifest in ways that are destructive. The key in this is to try and keep God central, so that when we go off the rails, make a bad choice, or react when we should have tried to relate—we can admit our mistake and try and redirect ourselves in ways that keep us in line with God. Ann exemplified this truth all through her life.
It is interesting the ways our lives move and change. We come into this world having no clarity on how we are to be. Our childhoods give us both opportunities and challenges that will mould many aspects of our adult existence. We walk into the world with an empty slate, bringing our greatest gift with us – our very beings. Yet, at the same time, we also bring our own wants, needs, desires, and longings that will influence the choices we make. The problem is that every choice we make is rarely done with a clear understanding of the outcome. Our choice may be right for us, and wrong for someone else. Relationships are a classic example of this truth. Statistically, in our society, about 60% of all marriages will fail.
People in business will often have one business fail, only to start another that is far more successful. People will vote in a variety of ways, but how many of us have looked back later and reflected that they wished they had voted differently? Choice and free will are things that we are all given. It gives us the opportunity to live our lives according to how we want. When we do so without giving thought to anyone else, we have already moved in a way that will leave a legacy. Some of those legacies will be difficult.
The longer I live, the more I know how important it is to understand how God is integrated into our lives. There is a simple concept of testing things out and seeing if there is an ease in making the decision. It is a bit like flying a test balloon which measures the wind and current, showing us what is happening around something that we cannot see. We cannot see God, but we can certainly feel his influence in ourselves. If we are thinking about doing something, simply put out the request. If it is something that is going to work, we will see the opportunity lining up. It is almost magical in the way it happens. Seemingly complex decisions come together in an almost seamless fashion, while other decisions get more and more complicated. When a decision-making process is filled with stumbling blocks, it is time to step back and wait. God will reveal himself to us if we have the patience to wait.
Patience and waiting were never in my vocabulary when I was young. Looking back, I know I could certainly have used a lot more of it. God will teach us if we are willing to learn. God will be with us if we are willing to allow him. Taking the time to simply ‘be’ is a task that all of us can do.