Waste or Largess and yet.

I few minutes ago I had a brilliant insight into life and the universe.  It may or may not interest you, so I won’t bore you.

It struck me deeply.  I sensed two possibilities for my insight.  It resonated through me.  The insight gave me joy.   The resulting feeling suspended me “up” in a long, draining week for seconds.

Again, I see two possibilities for my insight, for a depth of feeling and realization words fail to convey.

Possibility one.  All we are today results from a profoundly long series of random outcomes, against the Second Law of Thermodynamics, gathering star-dust from millions of extinguished stars to donate elements farther down rows of our Periodic Table to fire-form a planet within a hair’s breadth of distance from a correct sun needed for incredibly sophisticated RNA and DNA to take on a job of blindly evolving past millions of blind alleys to get to us.  “Us” who can write, laugh, love, hear and even sometimes understand each other; and die.  All of my memories, depths, and sharing now a meal for worms blindly eating either my corpse or plants enriched by my ashes.  In a generation, at most, any who interacted or shared with me; join me in oblivion, as will we all.  A remorseless universe neither taking note, caring or laughing.

Possibility two.  A God described as having infinite capacity created the thought of me before assembling the iron and nickel for a core for Earth.  He brought my mother from her birth family to an adopted family so she could marry and unite again with my father after two miscarriages to birth me.  And so, minutes ago, this God shared my brilliant insight into life more intimately than even my wife could hope for.  And if all that’s written of Him is good, when I die I am resurrected out of time into eternity to get this — share that insight with Him and possibly at the same depth with those purchased by His grace — around a dinner beyond compare before we get back to work.

How it all works is above my pay grade.

Possibility one says as a terrorist dies, it holds equal lack of value with the deaths of Jesus, Gandhi — the named and the forgotten.  From nothing formed, and to nothing returned.

Possibility two gives me Hope to hold to values. I choose P two.  Probably as it demands more of me in faith, giving to, making a difference, loving and weeping — living.  If Hope is a crutch, then inscribe mine with the name for me in Heaven I don’t even know, yet.

See?  I can now say, “yet”!

Decanting Souls

Jan asked, “Will we decant mom on Sunday, then?”

The week was full of boxes crammed with scrapbooks, photos, and correspondences — scattered through the house, the storage building, the pool house and workshop: detritus of Barbara K. Johnson’s life.

We laughed hard to hear little Jill write her mother in the hospital, that she neither believed her brother that mom was in the hospital, or worse, was having a baby and it was another boy.  It was funniest when Jan read, “And please do NOT call him Douglas” to the youngest, Doug.  So my dearest Jill held strong opinions at age nine and could articulately express them.

We each mutely read the neatly typed letter wherein Philip, their dad, said he had not had sexual relations with the woman he had run off with over the weekend, and he would return as pastor if all could be forgiven.

Steve quietly sorted the box with all of the bills that Phil returned unpaid to the hospital, pharmacy, and utility company after he left for good with the woman and emptied all of the accounts.

And I was struck by the probability that all great fiction, all award winning plays are barely recognizable shadows of authors’ families, or the shattered family of friends, or the shattering family at home.

And all these years later, the siblings taking cues from the astounding woman of God they had as mother, these siblings who had visited the man of unpaid bills in the nursing home as he wept and laughed with them, were choosing what will go to flame tonight in a bonfire of vanities, joys, and deep realities.  And they cho0se what to give to children and grandchildren.

Doug, who happens to be an award winning woodcarver has carried out one last wish from Nana, Barbara, and carved a final resting box for her ashes, kept safe in the plastic bag in which they were delivered over a year ago.  And on Sunday we will decant her ashes, as reverently as the siblings decanted the correspondences, savored them, laughed and wept over them.  We will decant them into Doug’s box preparing them for February when these four proud children of Barbara K Johnson will head to a windswept cemetery in South Dakot to send her ashes on a slow journey of becoming one with the dust of Alcester from whence she came.

And that will be the end of it, unless you know anything about Jesus and final banquets at the juncture of time and eternity, where we will decant life in the limited way we know it here, as an aperitif toward heaven.

Happy New Wait A Minute

Happy Epiphany.  January 6.  Wise guys visit Jesus.  12th Day of Christmas.  All of that I get, but the convention of the date is my problem.

First of all, we may have gone “around” the sun in 365.25 days, but the sun moved.  We are nowhere near the same place as this time “last year”.  This spiral arm of the Galaxy moved.  Don’t you remember that crazy day in elementary school when someone delighted in telling you the eight or nine ways we are moving, leaving you queasy!?

I have welcomed the new year watching a ball drop in Times Square, the largest outdoor restroom for a night.  Really, the ball just drops and that means something?  Are you certain marijuana was not legal in New York decades ago?

I have welcomed it on my knees praying at that exact moment when the new year began. 

I have welcomed it asleep, driving, eating in some diner, playing games, with a few hundred screaming teens, and I have welcomed it with just Jill.  My favorite.  Not your business. 

And I have made resolutions, plans, goals with attendant tasks and been moderately successful in them.

But here is my point.  Why at this point in a calendar (don’t get me started on “calendar”) do we have hope for newness?  How did that come to be?  Why not Hannukah, Christmas, Ramadan, or Easter?  Going the other way, why not Halloween or Mardis Gras? 

It is just the first day of January.  Stay with me.

All the other months have a first day, Right?  Why THIS first day of THIS month?

Random.  If you want to compare my work check with the Jews and Chinese for their first days of their new year(s) dates. 

Don’t get depressed and sappy on me, just think about it.  Some very well meaning people chose this day after all their work on their “calendar” as a day to reset the months and days and begin again.  We attached all the rest of our hopes for weight loss, working out, saving, studying more, smoking less, quitting drinking, whatever to this Random Date.

SO, if you have already screwed up, fallen short, blown the resolution — pick another date and start again.  How about tomorrow?  If there is anything Christian in applying grace practically, that would be it.  Why don’t we start our relationship, business plan, forgiveness, kindness, savings again – first thing in the morning?  Any day is as good as some January 1!

There.  See Random can work for you occasionally.  And happy Epiphany.