Life is weird. Appliances or gadgets that run quietly in the background of life suddenly quit working and suck time out of your day. Relationships that mean the world to you and that you thought were rock solid turn out to be in need of clean up and maintenance. Your usual sunny disposition crumbles when you see that the cat vomited in yet another room. The mail that is usually bills turns out to have a wedding invitation. The bathroom scale which had obstinately stuck out it’s tongue at you for years on end, now smiles politely and shows you that the work you are doing is making a difference. The phone call from a friend you haven’t heard from in years breaks the silence.
Prayers are weird. There are a variety of things that are said about prayer. They say that there are no atheists in war zone foxholes. They also say that one of the biggest lies Christians say is this: “I’m praying for you.” They say that you should never tell God your plans because generally speaking you will see that God has a sense of humor and has other ideas. Then, of course there is the old story of the man whose boat capsized while out at sea and he prayed to be saved. A rowboat came by and tried to pick him up, but he waved it away because he trusted that God would save him. Next a fishing boat came by, but he didn’t want to get in with all those fish, and he trusted God would save him. Well, he drowned and died. When he went to Heaven he asked God “Why did you let me drown?” God replied “I sent two boats – why did you turn them both away?” The way that prayers are answered, and the timing of that answer is weird.
Memories are weird. Some of the moments that were the hardest to live through provide memories you cherish most. Some of the routine little things that happened often, almost routinely, like watching your father’s hands fill the same brown ceramic coffee mug day after day, create memories that stay with you. Places you’ve lived come back to you in memories – a tunnel made of Cherry trees, raining Cherry blossoms, reminds you of lovely walks and talks you once had. Something that you committed to paper decades ago suddenly turns up – whimsical plans for extensive landscape features and gardens named after appropriate theologians written while on a road trip. Childhood memories return to warm you heart: stories, pranks, games, summer evenings, bike rides, root beer, and picnics.
Aging is weird. In some ways you feel as if you are absolutely the same person you always were. At the same time you have been radically changed by your experiences and the clarity of vision that comes with hindsight. Sometimes the hindsight is painful as you see things you should have known, actions you could have taken, conversations you should have instigated, thankfulness you never expressed.
So. Today. Reflections. I try to remember that each day that I am still alive I have much to be thankful for, much to rejoice in, many people who need my prayers, many ways I can show kindness to others, many bits of beauty to cheer me, opportunities as yet unrealized ahead of me, choices that matter, love to cherish. I hate my job. . . yet I thank God for it every day. It is providing us with a pathway out of debt. At the same time I ask God to open new doors for us. As yet those prayers have been unanswered. But life keeps teaching me to be patient. Show up and keep trying and keep praying. I also pray that God nudge me louder if I am too dense or momentarily too stupid to recognize the boat that has been sent.
I can tell about many of my prayers that have been answered. There was the time when I was lost on back roads of Pennsylvania I prayed that God would get me home safely and help me find a small Christmas tree to take back to my dorm room. Within a couple of minutes I rounded a corner and found a Christmas tree lot, found a tree, and was able to get directions that got me home safely. When after years of wanting a child, nearly giving up hope and thinking my prayers would never be answered, I gave birth to a daughter, the most beautiful baby on the planet, born two weeks late, just in case I wasn’t connecting the dots, on Easter Sunday . . . clearly an answer to prayers. I wrote my first blog post about wanting to find a church. I’ve prayed for a church. I didn’t find it. It found me. My brother and I had stopped in to talk to the secretary at a church a couple of years ago when I was looking for a place where I could practice the organ. They had an electric keyboard. I never went back there. Then a year and a half later they called me and asked me if I could play piano for worship. Over a period of months we have worshiped there now and again, have been warmly welcomed, have spoken with the pastor, have enjoyed good liturgy, and faithful preaching. It found me. Prayers answered. One time my daughter was very worried about an evening which she thought might be very stressful and difficult. I had a talk with three dead people. (Yeah, I’m weird). I talked out loud to my dead parents and my dead former father-in-law, explained the situation and asked for their prayers, joining mine, that the situation be diffused and turn out well. It couldn’t have turned out better. A visitor stopped in at the home where my daughter was and stayed for dinner. The dinner, which she had worried about, was delightful. The guest’s arrival changed everything. There was friendly and easy conversation and it turned out to be lovely evening without tension or problems.
Life, prayers, memories, and yes, aging, are all weird. My advice: Keep living. Keep praying. Keep remembering. Keep believing. Keep loving. Keep reaching out. Keep on keeping on.