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Joys and sorrows of today are quickly forgotten, in favor of what is coming next

by davesandel on September 26th, 2021

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 26, 2021                (today’s lectionary)

Joys and sorrows of today are quickly forgotten, in favor of what is coming next

We do a little planning before time with our grandkids. There are so many activities, foods, books to share. They make a pile of our plans, knock them over like one of their endless cardboard box houses and beckon. Let’s go. Come on. Head out on the highway. We’re lookin’ for adventure, and whatever comes our way …

We have standards, of course. Expectations, limitations, concerns, rules, and all that other stuff that keep us going from one day to the next. But sometimes I get a little overwhelmed, trying to keep up with their creativity while finishing one thing before starting another, knowing we really do need to be in charge, living within our physical and mental means. I suspect this is really the art of the “simple,” though at first it seems more complicated than I can stand.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.

It might seem strange to call this kid-grandparent time management a spiritual practice. But it is. Richard Rohr quotes Adele Calhoun:

Jesus wants us to know we don’t need all the experiences we think we do … Simplicity creates margins and spaces and openness in our lives. It offers us the leisure of tasting the present moment, to receive the simple gifts of life that cannot be taken away. (p. 75)

When I’m feeling morning energy sometimes I zip around fast enough to make myself dizzy, and get lots done. Especially when the kids are here. That’s a little bi-polar, though, and all too soon I collapse into a heap. Is that OK? Do I want to moderate my life a little, flat-line myself just a bit? I think I need to talk to God about this.

The Lord came down in the cloud, spoke to Moses, and bestowed some of Moses’ spirit on seventy elders. Moses said to Joshua, “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!”

Adele is getting older, I am too. We are not the only ones. Adele has something to say to me:

Aging has always been about simplifying and letting go. Sooner or later we realize that we can’t manage all the stuff and activity anymore. The practice of letting go and embracing simplicity helps us prepare for … one day we will have to let go of everything – even our own breath. That will be a day of utter simplicity.

Margaret and I have gathered and we have stored, and we have, in spite of our frugality, learned how to hoard. Who knows what we might need tomorrow, when the dome of our future crashes down? I am ready for everything … except death.

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your oncoming miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes are moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion, testimony against you, will devour your flesh like a fire. You have fattened your own hearts for the day of slaughter.

I think of Jesus, settled into his ministry, gaining followers, gaining wealth (at least gaining wealthy followers), and then saying to his disciples, “The Son of Man will be handed over to men.” His strength does not prepare him for the day of weakness. The death of Jesus, it will come, and he will do nothing to stop it. We are all in the same boat, and it leads us around a bend we cannot see beyond.

The righteous one, condemned unjustly, offers no resistance.

Late at night, waking up restless in the middle of what I thought was a sound sleep, I wonder about this dying thing. How is my heart doing? My right coronary artery is no longer working, but corollary arteries have taken over. Dr. Deem said, “Well, be glad it’s not your left one. That’s the widow-maker.” I wonder if my left one is next. There are lots of things I need to do before that happens. And Margaret doesn’t drive in Austin. And she’s recovering from her own heart surgery. And Christmas is coming, and we have plans. And … and … and …

Whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water because you belong to Christ will surely not lose his reward.

Adele points out the obvious, that spiritual practices guide us into the arms of Jesus. “Life becomes much more simple when one thing matters most.” She suggests practices for simplifying.

Here are some that come to my mind, on this 26,245th day of my life: relax when the kids are around, buy a cemetery plot and gravestone instead of thinking about it, settle on a few songs to sing at my funeral (and sing them), rub Margaret’s back, take short afternoon naps, eat fresh pineapple and let the juice slide down my throat, write some poems, read some good stories, and watch how Jesus beckons, holds his arms open wide, and smiles.

(Numbers 11, Psalm 19, James 5, John 17, Mark 9)

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