My life has been real slow as of late, almost in reverse on some days. I may wake up with a rush of energy or enthusiasm, but the blahs seem to hover like that cloud of dirt and grime over Pigpen’s head in the PEANUTS cartoons. Now and then a goal or an idea might alight upon my brain, or I will once again conjure up the notion of winning a Pulitzer Prize or having a play on Broadway – ambition has never been a problem for me, nor has arrogance, which I keep as a matched set, like fine china, in my beloved memory chest.
After reading the paper, which is invariably a downer, I do the crossword puzzle, in order to keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Alzheimer’s caught up with my Dad when he was 76, and he rode that bucking bronco until he was 90. For the last ten years, he had his leg trapped in the stirrup, and the disease just dragged him flopping around the arena. It wasn’t pretty. My mother could barely watch anymore, and would just whistle, iron, and mop floors.
I then read some Wendell Berry, who always brings me a lift of insight and simple wisdom. He has a remarkable way of calling America to task, while letting you know just how much he cherishes the sweet earth and goodness of its people. Wendell just hates big and fast and modern, and longs for days filled with the lovely light of the sun or snowfall, and a time when getting a haircut was a worthy accomplishment for the day. Wendell yearns to know and trust his neighbors, and to get back to the business of building God’s Kingdom on this earth, and fleeing fast from the inanity of erecting a testament to a good life without any goodness in it.
Next I read some Garrison Keillor. The hard part of reading Keillor is that he is so damn good, he almost makes me want to never write again. His stories are so soft and subtle and woven of saga and myth and story, and the tapestry created is knitted together with the thread of Truth, a truth which could be called the Gospel Truth. He never preaches. He just tells. He tells us a good story about good people and good lives and the goodness God intends for each of us. His words create an aroma of Grace, like fresh baked bread or cinnamon sticky buns.
I drive out to Brown’s Lake and take a nice clean cool dip in this delicious little lake. There are only a few post summer mothers here with their kids. It is September, and the day is yet another mixed bag. This morning it was steamy Africa hot. It rained over lunch. This afternoon, just when the kids were let out of what they claimed was prison, the temperatures dropped into the high 60’s. The water was a good deal warmer than the air. I swam and walked, and tried to create the illusion of being mobile.
As I dried off, I watched the kids trying to build sand castles and forts, or skip a rock or two. An old woman with a flowered bath cap, yelled at the kids for almost hitting her with a stone. They had missed her by a good fifty yards, but I was thinking about helping them with their aim – the old bat. The sky grew cobalt blue, and the clouds so pure and puffy and white, they looked like the wispy cotton snow my Grandmother used to decorate everything at Christmas.
As I drove home, I began to notice the gilding of the earth that is the hallmark of September. Everything is cast in a holy light, especially at sunset. I was dazzled and dumbstruck by the beauty of this time of early evening. I opened the window and let the cool clean air wash over me. I started to hatch a plan to win The Nobel Prize. You see, the problem with humility, is that it threatens to extinguish the longing to create a legacy which will last. I am always being tied up in knots with my yearning to be a “somebody”, and my awareness of the Grace of not being anyone all that special.
I made myself a crappy supper of over frozen shrimp and mealy grapes. After doing up a few dishes and throwing in a load of laundry, grounding myself in the normalcy of my alone days, I went to the computer to try and write. This time, the writing came swiftly and easily, and the words fell into place like they do after getting a long word filled in on a crossword puzzle. I liked what I wrote. It was about everyone’s increasing need for compassion as we age. Aging and dying are erosion which removes any semblance of being in control.
These swift slow days pass us by like white puffy clouds, and we find ourselves waving a white flag at some point of every day. Surrender is no longer repugnant, but required. We fall into God’s waiting arms, and we wonder if we did enough today. Then God whispers into our ears, once again, “Just be … you are already a “somebody”, my special child!” And for a moment or two I believe it. Though, I will struggle with this knowing the next day and the next day, and every day. Still, those moments of collapsed surrender are delightful, no longer scary, and help prepare for me the final leap of faith to come.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.