Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt God was desperately trying to get your attention, as if to say… will you please just turn it off for a moment, take a breath, and be still!
Recently, I was driving east on a clear, crisp, early morning just moments before the day broke. And as it did, the horizon bled shades of red, yellow, green, and blue I never knew existed. There it was… the eighth wonder of the world right before my eyes in all its splendor. Okay, I thought … you got my attention.
I was awestruck by one of those majestic moments of enlightenment where suddenly everything just seemed to fit and make sense. And as these blurred lines of mine began to focus, I could sense my worries and useless preoccupations dissipating like a fog in the morning sun.
There I was, without a care in the world, basking in the essence of God’s peace, thinking… why do I make life so damn difficult? Why do I hold so tightly to the things that weigh me down?
Later that very same evening, I found myself indulging in one of my favorite blood-pressure-rising, anxiety-producing past times… worrying about my kids. As the carousel of “what if’s” made its fourth or fifth pass, I quickly jumped off recalling my profound questions from earlier that morning.
Why do I hold so tightly to the things that weigh me down?
I thought… just LET IT GO. That’s it! That’s the answer! No… that’s the problem.
What seemed so clear and simple earlier in the magic of that sunrise, now felt completely out of focus and meaningless back here in the twilight of my insecurities and self-doubts.
I can’t LET IT GO! I don’t know how!
Then I recalled this simple prayer my pastor recently referred to in his homily.
“I can’t… You can… I’m yours.” How in the world did he know… never mind.
Life is constantly trying to teach this hard headed guy its ebb and flow. The trouble is… far too often, as I find myself flowing effortlessly down the stream of life with the wind at my back, I, for some strange reason, allow the fog of good old ebb to cloud my vision, slow me down, and veer me off course.
You know the fog I’m talking about. It begins slowly rolling in with a little self-doubt, laced with a few unforeseen twists and turns, then quickly ignites a bit of anxiety.
And just a bit of anxiety is sometimes all it takes to unleash a chain of irrational thoughts triggering actions capable of sinking you deeper and deeper into your self-imposed abyss.
Wow! That was dramatic… but hopefully you get my point.
And by the way… the fog which you allow in may be of a completely different variety… low self-esteem, jealousy, victimhood, grudge holding, arrogance… pick your poison… doesn’t matter… fog is fog.
At first, we hardly notice. But after a while, as it slowly accumulates, it begins to distort clarity, subconsciously consuming your peace… until one day… well, it’s kind of like that frog that ends up in the pot of boiling water. When he first jumped in, he thought nothing of it… in fact, it felt warm and welcoming. But slowly and incrementally… well, you know the rest of the story.
There have been countless teaching moments in my life, where at first, the curriculum seems incomplete, leaving me confused, scratching my head, i.e. the daybreak scenario I lead with at the beginning. But more times than not, sooner or later, if I stay alert, something clicks.
This is why, as I’ve mentioned many times in my posts, this blog of mine, if nothing else, serves as my personal therapy of sorts. You see… writing things down helps me untangle my thoughts in hopes of finding a bit of meaning and purpose from my experiences. And believe me… there’s a lot to untangle up there.
If you’re wondering where I’m going with all of this… here it comes.
My 89 year old mother recently passed.
To say that my experience being with Mom during her last several days moved me would be a gross understatement. The fact is, it has completely awakened me. And I’m desperately trying not to fall back asleep.
The last week or so of her life, Mom spent in her bed surrounded by her “kids”… practically 24/7. Mind you, I have seven siblings… and all were present and accounted for… in addition to my lovely wife/nurse, whom we couldn’t have done without.
Side bar: We’re a tight family, so everyone being together and hanging out is not at all unusual.
Those first couple of days was primarily spent trying to cope with the gravity of Mom’s situation. We were all nervously falling over ourselves trying to make her comfortable, tending to her needs.
As expected, there was a great deal of sadness as friends and family filtered through, expressing their final goodbyes.
But as the days and hours passed, a beautiful transformation began to take place. Our tears of sadness gave way to tears of joy, as tender stories of childhood memories and love of family were shared from each of our own perspectives. It was a wonderful excursion, taking the long way back home once again. I honestly believe that Mom was also finding comfort from this… I could sense it.
Mom loved music. And as the laughter from our stories filled the room, so did her music… some of us singing the choruses, others just listening and reminiscing.
We were all so caught up in the love that nothing else seemed to matter. It was as if we were in this divine bubble, where time stood still, as all of life’s meaningless minutiae simply dissipated, like that fog at sunrise I mentioned earlier. Yes Lord… again you have my attention.
The inevitable came at 4:25 am, peacefully and without fanfare. I’m sure her fanfare came shortly after.
We all continued to hang out together in the essence of God’s peace for the next couple of hours just taking it in and sorting things out.
Later that morning as we were standing in the parking lot, getting ready to go our separate ways, God, one last time reached out… though this time he didn’t have to shake me. I was already wide awake.
There it was, as if right on cue, a glorious sunrise burning the horizon. What a wonderful deja vu moment… everything just seemed to fit and make sense.
Mom had this photo of her and me, displayed on her dresser by her bed, which I love. For me, it speaks volumes.
That photo now sits by our fireplace. Every time I now see that picture I stop to take a moment to… just turn it off, take a breath, be still, and yes… pray:
“Lord… I can’t, You can… I’m yours”.
And you know something… the fog lifts every time… as so goes my grip.
Love you Mom.
Ps: What’s it gonna to take to get your attention?