Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Wind Beneath My Wings

Oh what a feeling … what a rush! It is like having a whirlwind tour and never seeming to have touched the ground. I am used to putting a few weeks of planning into a voyage. There are routes to be checked, watering holes to be pinpointed (that is always a good thing in a family’s striving for peace of mind and bladder), and the list of the wants, likes and hopes that add up to a memorable trip for all. The family knew of the upcoming event pretty well in advance, but as would have it, it was to be held a fair piece away, as we say down east! It was not likely that our branch of the family would be able to attend as retirement has shaken the money tree with renos, new builds and needed a bit of extra outside work just to keep from depleting savings. One daughter was off to Europe on business, another teaches school full-time and so she can’t take time away in the fall and our son is a contractor and a relatively new Dad…. So how does one swing it?

Well, for the adventurous at heart and spirit …. You throw out all the known excuses, accept the blessings as they come and answer the invitation. So it was that our daughter was picked up at the airport, as she flew in from Europe, and our son (with permission) sidestepped his work and family for a few days, while my wife and I, with packed bags in hand, climbed aboard a van mid-evening and drove some 22 hours to Upper Canada. Ok… so it was Ontario! LOL And for the driving?… But for the first leg from Halifax International to Edmundston NB, which my wife drove, our son took the wheel and zipped us to and fro, hither and yon, to all the places, events and back home again… oh to be young again.

It is really not like the old tours we took years back. Being rushed is not one of my forte’s, but I am spontaneous, just not like I used to be. I found that not being “large and in charge” can change a person. The “big kahuna” of travel became not even a co-pilot, but Dad in the back seat; “and stay out of the backseat driving position, thank you very much”! LOL. During my illness, after returning from India last trip, I really got to enjoy being ferried about, being able to relax and rest as needed, but since feeling more myself, well, it was a bit draining, not of the energy needed to make the trip, but of the ol’ guys ego! But I know that comes with the territory. Life has a way of spinning around faster every day and when those years turn into decades, and the decades into generations… well you can see my point… you just become another old dinosaur that has need of care and is put out to pasture. Well, that is not for me.

I’ve got lots of life to be lived yet. When driving is no longer an option for the long hauls, I plan to fly… perhaps on their ticket, if my tears and sad old eyes could make a difference. LOL No… I believe in being somewhat independent and don’t want our children to feel that we have become a burden. My plan is to keep moving, not uprooting, but the everyday routines that can keep life interesting and challenging at the same time. The woodworking shop is nearing completion; soon the cottage home will be a focal point for completion and then more time to explore, or perhaps reinvent myself again. No need to feel sorry for this old bird yet… cause I am not about to feel sorry for myself at this point; there is too much good that can be done in family, community and out there in the world.

Think of the challenges that face us every day. For some it may be more difficult than others, but for each there is the personal feat of getting going, maintaining stride and finishing the daily race before resting for another night. On the chance that life affords me health, strength and resources to get me through each year, I plan to not just make due, but make good, better and the best of each moment, day and month ahead. Retirement can be a host of things to the myriad of folks who face it each year. To some it is the beginning of the end, with little or no choice but to settle in to deterioration and death. I made plans years ago and though some changes have taken place, we still have a view to a future, not just the end. I often tell people that we can die with regrets dampening our spirits, or we can live with the knowledge that the past can be both a stepping stone and a pillar of learning, from which we glean the wisdom to do better, live better and accomplish greater things for others and God.

Life becomes much like the whirlwind tour. Much can be last minute, even more can be poor planning or just plain stupidity at its worst, but it can have its greater moments. This past week I lost the opportunity to see a dear cousin, but I did get to visit a dear friend, attend a nephew’s wedding, go to see Niagara Falls again, but most of all to spend time with family; two of our children, cousins, an Aunt and Uncle and just being free for a few days away! That is not to say that all was perfect… even the small things can become huge when overtired. But we cast off the imperfect to be clothed in love… and that is the key. For an adventure to be great, the sacrifice of self must be more important than the moment… moments are just that… superficial when it comes to a lifetime of joy.

So, it was that last minute plans and a van full of family took to the road and spent hours, laughing, teasing and remembering that life is good, though shortcomings and disappointments do happen, but still we live on. I remember “stuff” from past journeys and it was a treat watching now our grown children leading the way, talking of trips yet to be taken and somehow involving the past generation behind them with an excitement that warmed our hearts. Not being left behind, but included, in conversation, in plans yet to be played out and even greater adventures which might also comprise grandchildren and other family. How can one not feel the exuberance of some advanced years where the knowledge of inclusion disperses the fear of isolation? I know that there will come a time when it will be difficult for the children to involve us, come to visit us… it has begun already,… their lives become a matching of priority and need over desire and conscience. But for now, I celebrate the journey and what a trip it is; humps, bumps but also vistas of unbelievable beauty spread out before us, just waiting to be viewed… and view it we may with the wind beneath our wings.

So I am off to some new adventure today. I am going to go “out there” near the edge again. I’m done wasting time on what can’t be changed, I’m finding time to change what I can and then go explore more of this ol’ world around me. For any one of us it may be just up the street, across town or 2000 Kms. away, but go see for yourself. My son watched as several individuals (and small groups) took pictures at Niagara Falls. There is always someone left out …. You know the deal… whoever takes the pic is always left out. So I said to him; “you should go take the pic for them!” His reply was; “no… I am not there yet!” So off I went and had the joy of bringing them joy, and there always was… joy… for they were now part of the group photo, because I chose to help. One day my son will understand and take the lead perhaps for his son. Don’t be afraid to get near the edge… it may not be at Niagara or the Grand Canyon; it may be in front of some flower garden just down the street. Believe me… it is a life changing experience and it will change your perspective while there. Blessings for your journey and may you find the wind beneath your wings!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Damaged In the Storms

We are often warned of impending storms along the Atlantic Costal areas of North America. It is one of those zones where weather can quickly gather itself into a real northeaster and blow the stuffing out of any area in its path. In my youth I saw pictures of the effects of hurricanes that wrought their devastation on coastal communities in Shelburne County and other parts of Nova Scotia. It is fascinating for sure to watch the coming clouds and a bit scary feel the fast changes in atmospheric pressure caused by the moving weather fronts. In our area people rush to the shorelines to watch the wave action turn from gentle swells to crashing surges of destruction as the power of the storm alters both geological and geographical markers. And then there are those who just venture too close and are injured or killed, not realizing the ferocity of nature at its worst.

I would like to think that we would all remain safe and out of harm’s way, during the storms. Of course, not all storms are due to atmospheric upheaval. There are those little things that just happen in life and are due to either circumstance beyond our control or on the other hand, are out of lack or watchfulness or just plain stupidity. Can you imagine the truth of some of the commercials we watch on TV these days? Insurance ads are sometimes the most curious, alarming and in the deepest sense of dark truth, funny to say the least. Picture; a man walks towards his car to go to work and a huge overhanging limb from a nearby tree drops directly on the vehicle and crushes it completely…. Scan over and upward… we see a man who has just cut the limb with a bow-saw, looking very stupid. Makes you glad you have insurance those days. Of course insurance companies and assurance companies bank on our fear of the unknown and what might happen to fleece us, while covering their cost of expenses  to cover payouts for  someone else’s mishaps. Ah the joy of the insurance schemes afoot in our society. But that is another digression… it happens a lot lately. Note to self… keep your eye on the ball. Ha!

It doesn’t take long as the storms arrive, for us to get the first news of real damages; the heartache of flooding, evacuations, loss of real-estate, and the cost of repairs and rebuilding mount to astronomical figures. For those in the midst of the trauma the reality is theirs, they lay claim to the disaster because for them it is now life, being lived, whether they wanted it this way or not. Physical disasters come in all forms, not just in high winds and torrential rains. The mental and physiological pain of storms in life can take its toll too!
Pan left or right…. Look up from the focus on trying to live with your own moments and see what is around you. It can be both enlightening and upsetting, but it is due to other storms that we have little or no control over in life. Each Sunday we have a time to mention the names of loved ones or acquaintances who we feel need prayer in their lives. In one small country Church family the number of names is outstanding… and then there are those in our midst… the hurting ones who are the victims of their own storms where wind and rain have no blame… it is the thing of life… the everyday news of someone else who health problems and may be facing the worst. Every day, perhaps because I am who I am people speak of their struggles and look to me for both consolation and more to the point prayer. The interesting part of all this is that they may not be people of prayer themselves, but they recognize that here is someone who must be connected and maybe, just maybe, they can connect on their behalf, for needs not faced and voiced in panic and fear. It can be an awesome responsibility and yet that is part of our response to storms… to be doers and not just hearers.

I guess not all storms are huge, like my friend ( we will call her Nellie) who has heard that she has bone cancer or the myriad of people who suddenly find themselves alone as their loved ones are snatched form their midst in death. Some are just the everyday garden variety of arthritic joints, the gastro reflux which has become so popular as we eat more, exercise less and go off the limits of good diets… maybe it is perhaps just, I don’t know… more chemicals in our foods that are causing upset tummies. Ah shoot… I am digressing… pinch me will you! We all suffer the small stuff in life. It may seem like a big thing while it is happening, but for the most part survival is not in question… it may just seem that way. For us here in the local household it has been a scary moment with a medical test and a recall for a closer analysis, a step into a deep hole that twisted an ankle and knee on the same leg, putting me in misery for over a month just trying to stand up, much less sleep at night. Oh by the way… all this at the same time… strange eh!... and the needs of others still remained constant… and the calls came in.

The doctors said; “All clear” for the medical and our hearts beat a little slower as calm swept in once more. Another said; “well if you were able to get up and walk and not feel the greatest extent of the pain for a week then the damage was minor… as in no broken bones, just stretched ligaments and muscles and that will heal eventually.” Again a deep sigh of relief. But the pain remains. It is part of the collateral damages that come with storms. Our hearts may ache due to the twinges of guilt for not having more faith; after all why do we get scared and upset when storms come? Can God not keep us through the storms of life? Lingering pain from injury can be damaging too, as we wonder why the miraculous does not seem to be a contemporary element which could immediately change the course of life daily. It seems that we echo the sentiments of those in Jesus’ time who cried; “Show us a sign Lord!” While there may be some argument today over the absence or presence of miracles, I am a firm believer that God is still that whom He has always been, a God of love, justice and creation (which of course includes His watchful care over that creation).

So today if you are suffering storm damages, you need not buy more insurance … just consider a bit more assurance. We are not alone, even when we feel we are. That is human nature at work and there is no need for guilt, otherwise our Savour’s agony in the garden is for not. When facing the storms, we go through the myriad of emotions and there is no way around it… we forge ahead and try to keep our hearts and heads intact. Look up today, if you are not one of the damaged… or even if you are. Who around you is one of the damaged ones, who may need a bit of your touch, the Master’s touch through you? Take a moment and walk even closer to the edge… it may surprise you what you will find there… a peace that the world knows not… it may be that you might need a new perspective while standing there. Blessed today I pray and take a moment to bless others.