"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Is It Time to Look Beyond the Obvious?

By Micky Wolf
It’s been a long, hot summer in our little corner of the country, all of which has created a moderate drought. Some regions of the country have been suffering through worse—extremes of heat and fire or record-breaking rain and flooding.

My beloved and I have done our best to water the fruits and vegetables. Other plant life, vis a vie the lovely smoke bush that grows next to one end of our deck, are so big it would be nigh unto impossible to provide the volume necessary to keep them healthy and whole.

As a result, that bush—along with many other shrubs, perennials and lawns in our neighborhood—are doing what they can to survive. Go into preservation mode.

In other words, these plants let go of what might be considered the nonessentials and focus on the priority—concentrating all resources on the primary roots and infrastructure.

Here’s the interesting part of observing the drought-induced changes that are occurring around us. In the early stages, you couldn’t tell the difference by the outward appearance of the bush.

That is…until the leaves began to turn a light ginger color, followed by a dark brown and then brittleness. The slightest breeze and they waft to the ground.

This is the obvious part. The not-so-noticeable precursor?

Before the deep, green, shiny leaves (to the right in the accompanying photo) manifested any of what was happening internally, they looked normal. Healthy. Until you touched them—and then they too floated soundlessly to the ground.

Truth be told, the dying and letting go process was well underway, yet you would have never guessed that to be true from outward appearance alone.

Which leads to two (at least) insights that bear wisdom for you and me.

Sometimes we need to let go of the non-essentials in order to maintain, even grow, our best life.

Not a perfect life. Not an it’s-all-about-me life. No, a life that is centered on finding it’s sustenance in the source of all that is good and loving. In Christian parlance, that is a life rooted and grounded in the well of provision—the Divine—that never runs dry, even when we think or feel otherwise. Even when, from outward appearance, everything looks fine and dandy.

Secondly, we may find ourselves in circumstances or events well beyond our control. 

Nonetheless, that’s not the end of the story, for us or the smoke bush. That is unless we decide to give up or choose to deny or ignore the present reality.

Respond? Take action? Yes.

The smoke bush doesn’t have to be told what to do. Not so for you and me. Given the gift of free will, we can sit and wait for the last breath of life to escape our hearts and soul…or we can draw ever more closely to our Creator God who alone knows what we need, how much, when, where, and in what manner or form.

But that doesn’t always make head-sense, does it? After all, I can’t see God. Or touch him. Or feel him.

Then again, neither can the smoke bush. It simply does what needs to be done, nothing more, nothing less.

How do I feel about my outward appearance in relationship to the condition of my heart? Comfortable? Uncomfortable?

What are the nonessentials in my life?

How willing am I to let go of the nonessentials?


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Too Young to Succeed or Too Old to Be of Value?

By Micky Wolf

I read something the other day that made me laugh out loud, to an empty room no less.

Got me to thinking about the conundrums we create for ourselves. Like we don’t have enough important things to focus on without making life more complicated?

The article in question made note of a group of young people eager to share they were finding success in their chosen field. From their perspective, in spite of their youth.

I should have such a problem. No, wait a minute, I do—in the other extreme. I fret about succeeding and being of value—in spite of my age.

By the time you put the “too young” numbers at one end of the spectrum and the “too old” at the other end—let me assure you, for one reason or another, there’s not a whole lot of space left in between.

Which leads me to the simple green tomato metaphor—and the wisdom lesson contained therein.

You may or may not like tomatoes of any shape or color. Fine. That’s not the point.

The reality is—before a tomato is red, it’s not. But because someone, somewhere, at some time got the idea the green ones might be just as tasty in a different way, many tomato aficionados now have plenty of opportunities to experience this culinary delight.

Green or red, each stage of the maturation of this fruit offers something unique and special. Why would we want to choose one as the best, or of more value than the other?

There are occasions when owning our age is appropriate. A six-year old has no business trying to get a driver’s license (at least not in this country). On the other hand, does that negate the option for a sixty year old?

Methinks it’s way too easy to spend way too much time pigeonholing one another into an age defined box—young or old. To insist a number represents such importance is to risk stifling the ingenuity, creativity, and contributions to the human good that may be on the brink of discovery—by people like you. Or me.

So, here’s to this year’s tomato crop—any way you slice, dice, sauté, fry, dry, or sauce ‘em.

How important is age to me?

How do I feel about the number of my years?

Do I feel limited by my age? Why?