Tragedy and Triumph are choices.
My father died about a month a half ago. He was only 53 so in many ways it was sudden and tragic.
Anytime you experience death first hand it is always strikingly clear and obvious how fragile we are as human beings. Death has a way of bringing sudden sobriety to a survivor’s soul. I remember in the days following losing my Dad, how graceful I was toward my fellow man. On the road, in grocery stores, in conversations I didn’t want to have with my friends. This was triumph for me because this is how I always want to live, in utter gratitude.
Sadly, as the days unfolded and the adrenaline pumped back into vapors, I lost track of that feeling. The realness of losing my Dad was solidifying in my heart by that time and I have spent these last weeks fighting the toxic mead of bitterness trying to settle in my bones and my heart.
I have no patience any longer for people being aggressive on the road, I fight to get first in line at the grocery store so I get to the safety and comfort of home, and I’m pretty silent during phone calls because I’m gassed. I spend most of the day catching my self spending what little resources I have left on fancy but useless defense mechanisms to preserve my life.
Something about my father’s death eventually made me feel vulnerable and defenseless instead of grateful for life as I was at first. If I’m not careful this won’t just turn into permanent hatred, it will turn into an endless terror filled war inside myself.
Thirteen years ago, as a nation, we all went through this very same thing together. There is certainly some beauty left from our ashes, beauty that never would have come otherwise. But we should ask ourselves, are we being careful enough not to waste our lives trying to protect ourselves from the inevitability of tragedy?
While we stock pile our guns are we aware that our bones become brittle from bitterness and fear liable to crumble faster than the steel inside the towers? While we plan our wars are we counting the mental cost and the lives lost at home when our soldiers come back from abroad without the care they need for their broken psyches? While we allow people like Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian to distract us because it’s much easier to focus on the sideshow than our pain are we aware that the more integrity we lose, the farther away from intimacy we get, the closer we come to living in hell on earth?
Are we aware that by spending our resources to avoid tragedy we are actually bringing permanent tragedy upon ourselves?
Can’t we see that we are choosing fear over love as if that will save us from something?
I don’t want this to happen to me.
I want to live. Really….live.
I don’t want to hold so tightly to things that are meant to fade at some point that I rot into a corpse with a grip.
I want the life I was living the days following my Dad’s tragedy. Where I cherished the idea of humanity more than I ever have in my whole life. That’s the person I truly am. That’s how I was made.
I don’t know how to get back to that but I’m going to. My life depends on it. America depends on it.
Dry and Thirsty
A few years ago when I started this blog I wrote a lot about storms. I wrote about them all the time. Storms fascinate me.
At the time there were storms everywhere. I mean we all have storms in our lives, and I did then too, maybe more now. But the storms I’m talking about were actual storms. They happened all the time, strategic times. When I needed them. Sometimes, a lot of times, followed by rainbows.
The best part? Flooding.
I am finding it hard to write about storms now because where I am there aren’t many. Even though across the land from me they won’t quit.
Now, it’s just desert. All around me. I’m finding it hard to write about the desert. Which makes sense. I’m finding it hard to write at all.
Hard things are always happening. But I’ve run dry. I’ve lost everything. People I care about, lots of them, have walked out of my life. A cat I had for seven years disappeared. A 5 year budding influence, service, and connection at my church, everything I’ve worked hard for, is completely gone. My Dad died. There are wars and rumors of wars everywhere. And the lake I cross every day, where in most places it’s normally 100 feet deep, is dissipating and dry in most places, leaving behind it a wake of caked dirt and moss. There is smoke all over in the air and the forests are blackening.
The trees are even dying where there have been no fires.
And nobody can water their lawns. Yellow lawns. Everywhere.
It’s no wonder I can’t eat or sleep.
This is not life. This is death. Always in your face without actually taking you to hell.
How does one recover from this?
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
(Yosemite, one of first places my Dad ever took me on journey, is rapidly burning before our eyes.)
No Money, No ball
Dear Oakland A’s,
You should not be where you are.
You come from a city whose government can’t care less about you. Despite having one of the best records in baseball you have one of the lowest payrolls. You have a GM who one day works like a magician to set you up for success, and the next cuts your manhood off by trading away your only classic slugger and face of your franchise. You are made up almost entirely of unwanted misfits. Misfits who get injured a lot.
Right now you are competing with one of baseballs highest payrolls and you are giving them hell.
You should not be where you are. Yet…here you are. You may be gutted but you wont stay down.
Keep your heads up. This is still an incredible story.
A lifelong fan and fellow misfit who refuses to stay down.
A prayer of Moses, the man of God.
Psalm 90 New Living Translation (NLT)
Book four (Psalms 90–106)
1 Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!
2 Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from beginning to end, you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust, saying,
“Return to dust, you mortals!”
4 For you, a thousand years are as a passing day,
as brief as a few night hours.
5 You sweep people away like dreams that disappear.
They are like grass that springs up in the morning.
6 In the morning it blooms and flourishes,
but by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We wither beneath your anger;
we are overwhelmed by your fury.
8 You spread out our sins before you—
our secret sins—and you see them all.
9 We live our lives beneath your wrath,
ending our years with a groan.
10 Seventy years are given to us!
Some even live to eighty.
But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble;
soon they disappear, and we fly away.
11 Who can comprehend the power of your anger?
Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve.
12 Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.
13 O Lord, come back to us!
How long will you delay?
Take pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
15 Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!
Replace the evil years with good.
16 Let us, your servants, see you work again;
let our children see your glory.
17 And may the Lord our God show us his approval
and make our efforts successful.
Yes, make our efforts successful!