Good morning from the balcony,
As I have begun my last three days, I am up and on the balcony just relaxing, yet pondering, and writing. I am thinking that this practice of writing first thing in the morning should become a habit. I am reminded of my comprehensive exams chair, Dale Sullivan. That was (and probably still is) his practice. I am hoping a number of things I have learned, or more accurately, observed might become something that is a normal part of my routine.
Last night before falling asleep I thought about what we say and what we do. I wonder how it is that sometimes they are so misaligned. It is what we say is what we aspire to? What we want or who we hope we might become? I understand shortcomings and I understand good intentions. I am reminded of the Greek word for sin. The word is hamartia. In literal terms it means “to miss the mark”. I am reminded of the image I was given in the summer Greek class in 1983. It was to shoot an arrow and fall short of the target. What I like about that image is three-fold.
First, it illustrates that we have responsibility for the action taken. We are doing something. We are in charge of our lives and not merely something deterministic, something imposed upon. Second, much like someone with a quiver of arrows, we have another chance, a way in which to make amends, if you will, and attempt to improve or change what happened. Third, it means that what has happened should be clear to us, or at least, it has the ability to become clear to us. The image of falling short is simple, but, of course, failure most often creates fear and fear paralyzes us. I also realize this is pretty simplified and there is much more one could argue, but hang in there for a bit. What is not so simple in this is to understand if the incongruence between what we do and what we say is apparent? Is it intentional (having to do with motive) or is it something of which we are actually unaware? Sometimes I think out personalities and our circumstances create this dilemma. Sometimes I think it is what we have learned or molded into our daily routines that cause the circumstance. Yet in either case, we are still accountable for our actions. Sometimes it is our frailties and the sum total of what is occurring, but that is when forgiveness is most needed.
I am reminded of a circumstance earlier this summer (and one that continues) when someone love for another is clouded by their struggles. The struggle is being able to see beyond the present and to imagine the future. The struggle is believing that the love professed is stronger than the human frailties of either party. It is a struggle with age, culture, and vision. It forces me to return to my own mother. How I would do things so differently if it were possible for a “do-over”. An earlier blog addresses some of that. How I would do two minutes over the other night if I could – that is the real consequence; once it is done, it cannot be undone. It is not possible to undo the damage, but it is possible to make amends. It is unfortunate that we do not seem to do that as well as we should. Forgiveness is the most powerful thing we have as humans. Yet, all too often, we fail to provide or give it to the person in need. The simple phrase “I’m sorry”, when spoken truthfully is a plea for forgiveness. Luther called it the”office of the keys”. If, and when, we provide forgiveness we provide freedom. Freedom from guilt or shame.
Yet there is a second part to this: we have to accept forgiveness and believe it is truly given. That is often my struggle, I have to believe I am worthy of being forgiven. I have to believe that the gift given is truly given. It is something I am working on at this very moment. When I return will I continue to believe that the unparalleled experience of being surrounded with care continues? That is a difficult one for me. It is my own struggle to believe that I am worth having around. I heard completely what each person said to me. “This changes nothing, the relationship is the same. Don’t worry” -amazing words in the circumstance. “We forgive you; we are not going to throw you away.” – again words with long-term consequences, and words of comfort.
While I have lost things and even people and perhaps more honestly discarded people, I am realizing the importance of family in a way I could have never imagined. While I appreciate my family and I love them the distance and inconsistency of being in contact with the exception of a couple, has left me feeling alone. I am also accountable for my part of that separation. What I feel now is a desire to be part of something – that is new to me. It is frightening to me. It is a gift to me, and one I am still trying to wrap my head around.
In spite of my failings, I hope that I illustrate how blessed I am in being offered this gift. I hope it is apparent how grateful I am. I hope what I say and what I do demonstrates a consistency that is unmistakably humbled and in awe of these gallant people. I might have to blog twice today.
Thanks for reading.