A word from Psalm 147:1-4 …
How good to sing praise to our God;
how pleasant to give fitting praise.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem,
and gathers the dispersed of Israel,
Healing the brokenhearted,
and binding up their wounds.
He numbers the stars,
and gives to all of them their names.
My diet is about a month behind me. I’m struggling to apply its lessons in my eating habits and in my life. I still have old urges to gobble down food for comfort. Packaged whey or soy-based products mixed from an envelope into water don’t really lend themselves well to rapid consumption in quantity. Apples, granola, and especially popcorn do.
I had a large cyst removed from my back last Friday. It sparked a strange reflection, even somewhat troubling. My wife reminded me at the doctor’s office that its removal was recommended about fourteen years ago. I didn’t remember that, I said. You said it was your “companion,” my wife said. Sheesh, that sounds creepy–I didn’t remember that either. With my weight loss this summer, the cyst had become more prominent and came to be something of a bother when I sat back in the car seat. After more than twenty years, it was time.
Lots of things in my life need to be cut out, to be removed. I don’t think I’m being harsh on myself. In talking to my sister-in-law the other night I said I was getting too old to be dealing with some aspects of nonsense in my life. My cyst/companion was no longer needed. On one hand, it had become a small distraction and annoyance. But it’s so interesting how one experience of loss can lead into another. I don’t feel in any way my death is immanent, but I’m just getting so darn tired of the crazy crap life flings my way. My attitude these days is to fling it back. And tell my friends to duck if they see me in this mood.
Five months later, I’m having a harder time with my brother’s death and related circumstances. My sister didn’t seem to want to talk about it this past weekend. She ended our phone conversation rather abruptly–usually she’s willing to talk for hours. The family joke growing up was that she was vaccinated with a phonograph needle–that will give you a notion of how social, friendly, and chatty my sister can be.
Instead, I had a long talk with my sister-in-law on the walk home Monday night. I’ve come to realize that while I feel satisfied with my relationship with my brother–we were always able to share our feelings and experiences and even our faith fairly frankly–I don’t always feel the same way about the living. Some of my family members are very tight-lipped about serious things. I would be very interested in hearing what they have to say about some stuff. And telling them a few things myself. Funny how I feel more of a sense of loss with some of the living than I do with my deceased father and elder brother. That bit of insight took me several days to tease out.
November is a good month for connecting us not only with death, but with loss. Simple loss. Wood sheds leaves and we gaze at those gentle, angular skeletons of trees. Scientifically, I know that these plants are simply cutting their losses and getting ready for a lean season. It’s not that I’m feeling the impulse to divest myself of my clothing and go streaking. But I feel much like the trees outside my window. The essentials of life are deep within. It’s time to step out of the whirlwind of busy/crazy and prune back to what is needed.
It’s only the eleventh month and it sounds like I’m ready for Lent. I hope you’re having a better time of it than I these days. And if you’re not, we can share the notion that God is ever-present, and that our wounds will be bandaged and healed, and that we are not making this often-fearsome journey alone. It is still good to praise God, even when my heart isn’t fully committed to the effort.