If Only I Could “Netflix” My Life

There's only one way to discover where the path leads... follow it!
There’s only one way to discover where the path leads… follow it!

Last night I found myself in an unusual position:  it was 7pm and neither kid was watching the TV.  I decided to nab the opportunity to watch another episode of a series I started a couple weeks ago on Netflix.   Apparently, this has the same effect as when I pick up the phone to call a friend, or sit down to balance the checkbook- a few minutes into it, my younger son plopped down on the couch next to me.

“What are you watching?”

“An episode of a TV show I found on Netflix.”

After a few moments of silence.  “Is that guy his dad?”

“No, they didn’t meet until just now.”

“Why did  he call him Father then?”

“Because he’s a priest and that’s what people call priests.”  I glanced over at him.  “Did you want to watch one of your shows?”

“No, I want to see what happens.”

So we watched the show, but not in silence.  He had lots and lots of questions.  I had some answers, but not all.  See, I had the benefit of seeing the 19 episodes prior, so I knew the history.  History is good, but it doesn’t necessarily give an obvious clue as to the future.

It struck me that this is a lot like life.  It would be be nice if life were like Netflix, where I could watch the “good” parts over and over, rate the “bad” parts with one star and remove them from my watch list, and skip ahead when I just can’t wait to see what happens next.

But life isn’t like that.  Life is “old school” – I only get to see it real time, as it happens.  It seems like the difficulties and struggles linger while the peaceful times are as brief as a single breath…maybe two, if I’m lucky. I know where I’ve been, I know where I’m at, but I have no idea what happens next.  I have no choice but to meet one sunrise after another and take it in as it unfolds.  I may not like all the “parts,” but with God’s grace, surely I can frame my view so I see each moment as something to cherish.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Advertisements

Living (Fiction)

8-31 Leap

Two months ago, I had an epiphany of sorts… a life-changing moment that happened in the midst of the ordinary.  In the timeline of our lives, it isn’t often we can identify those moments at the exact time we breathe them, but here’s the story of my moment.

I sat on the sun-baked rock clothed in Capri pants and a t-shirt.  I didn’t hike to the waterfall to jump in; I came to clear my mind and watch the crazy people leap into the murky unknown.  And the pool of water had turned an icky shade of brown after the last monsoon storm.  My mind never slowed as it ran through all the things that could go wrong.  You could slip off Lloyd’s Log and bust your head open.  I mean, the log was probably named for Lloyd after he did just that.  Lloyd’s body could have still been there for all I knew.  The old log could break and impale you as you plummet into the water.  You could over or under-shoot the leap and break your legs on rocks jutting out that are obscured by the muddy brown pool.  You could belly flop and drown after the wind is knocked from your lungs.  The list went on.

I held my breath every time a child leaped from the carved log and exhaled each time their head bobbed back to the surface.  In between, I’d shake my head and wonder why the parents didn’t protect their children.  If I had a child, I would never let them do something so dangerous.  I scanned the dozens of people around me and tried to match the offspring.  I grew bored with the game when the string of unmatched jumpers grew too long for me to manage.

My attention turned to the children and the way they would just jump, arms spread wide, legs tucked, into the unknown.  They had no fear.  I wondered what it was like to not be restrained by the shackles of consequences.  How did it feel to experience flight, even for just a few seconds before plunging into the water?  I puzzled over how an anyone could jump without knowing for certain it was safe.  But they did.  Some hesitated, but eventually they leaped.  I imagined their eyes squinted closed, but still, they jumped.

I looked down at my faded brown pants and the realization came to me:  at least they came prepared to let go.  In that moment, I saw my street clothes as an outward representation of my abundant supply of fears.  A more alarming thought surfaced:  I breathed, but I didn’t live.  

On impulse, I unlaced my shoes and set them beside me.  I peeled the damp socks from my pale, hardly-seen-sunshine feet.  I stood and took a deep breath before walking toward the water.  I gasped as the shock of cool water met my hot skin.  Thigh-deep in the unknown, I considered turning back.  But I’d gone this far.  I continued until my feet no longer touched the bottom, then I swam toward Lloyd’s log.  I shimmied up the submerged log and crawled up the crudely-carved stairs.  With shaky legs, I stood on the last step.  Things that could go wrong began to cloud my mind, but I jumped before they could paralyze me.

I didn’t hit my head on the log.  The log didn’t crack and I didn’t break any bones.  Lloyd’s corpse didn’t reach up and pull me under.  I wasn’t afflicted with flesh-eating bacteria.  The silt washed off my skin in a warm shower.

The thing is, my outward appearance is no different than it was before, but the moment I leaped from Lloyd’s Log with my arms stretched like a bird in flight, I lived.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~

This story is fiction but was inspired by some real thoughts and introspection that I’ve had.  At church on Sunday, they talked of faith.  Faith is often believing in something we cannot see or prove, and trusting that the outcome will be for our good.  Fear is the exact opposite of faith. When there is fear, faith is a risk.  Like the character in this story, I tend to see all the harmful/dangerous things that could come from any given situation.  I recognize that I need to lean on my faith more.

Still, I did not leap into the nasty murky water from a carved log. There are certain things I couldn’t work past… like, where do all these beer-drinking people go to the bathroom?  Oh, I knew….

Baby steps 🙂

Dying and Living

Don’t let the post title fool you – you’re not about to read a mournful post about death and loss.  In fact, the placement of “living” after “dying” is deliberate.  When we lose someone, it’s hard to see anything except our own loss of their companionship, but beyond their death, they are living…we are living.

My grandma’s birthday was last week.  If she was still alive, it would have been her 82nd birthday.  Of course I thought of her and I still miss her, but I didn’t cry for her.  I remembered her last birthday and how miserable she was.  I thought of how she said she was ready to be with my grandpa.  The recollection of the trips in and out of the hospital, and later hospice, during her last few months of life is still fresh in my mind.

For all of these reasons, I do not feel sad that she didn’t have to endure another birthday in a failing body and a mind that was no better off.  I feel glad that she finally found peace and imagine that her soul has found my grandpa’s soul again.  I believe that after we take our last breath, our spirit lives on.  The soul isn’t sustained by our pumping hearts or oxygen, which are necessary for our physical bodies to live.

Some people choose to visit the gravesite of deceased loved ones on special occasions.  I am not one of those people.  To me, visiting the resting place of soulless bodies doesn’t bring me comfort.  It dredges up my own sadness at the loss of the person’s earthly being.

My failure to visit an engraved marble marker on my grandma’s birthday doesn’t mean I love her any less.  It just means that I love her enough to not dwell on my loss.  Instead, I think of the joy she must have felt in meeting the God she honored throughout her lifetime.

Job 19:25-27 – “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I not another.  How my heart yearns within me.”

Do you find comfort by visiting loved ones’ gravesites?  How do you choose to remember deceased friends or family members?