Play Ball … February 28, 2012

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As far as I know, the only way to keep from being run down is to practice how to walk through.

I’m not quite sure why folks choose to live their lives like they‘re on stage in a comedy club doing improv–perhaps it’s because a certain number of us think that everything is dumb luck anyway, so why mess around trying to prepare for something that’s bound to surprise or disappoint you?

Others of the more pious sort believe that our entire destiny is laid out in the mind of God, as the angels act as our personal agents, arranging all of our circumstances to hopefully suitable conclusions.

It’s a fascinating dilemma. The Bible does offer both insights. One particular verse says that “our steps are ordered of the Lord.” And there’s another verse that proclaims that “time and chance happens to everybody.” So as I often do, I will defer to my good friend Jesus for his insight on the issue. He said, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”  

In other words, there are forces at work and we will find ourselves intertwining our efforts with those existing energies, so we might want to think about the subject of responsibility. I have realized that lots of individuals have only two thoughts as they being their day. (1) “Who will I meet?” and (2) “What will happen?” It is a popular way to approach the living process. We don’t consider it to be haphazard or lacking preparation because we have decided that we will avoid people we don’t like and cautiously and suspiciously stay away from any situation that seems foreign to us.

It probably was the thought brewing in the minds of those who boarded planes on September 11th, 2001. They certainly had no intention of interacting with suicide bombers and had not really alerted themselves to the dangers that might lurk in the sky above. Now before you think I am criticizing them for a lack of judgment, please understand, it is not only commonplace for all of us, but it actually seems sensible. If we can keep those we trust close to us and stay away from environments that are unusual, we should be able to plot our lives, right?

But once again, yesterday the dear souls of Chardon, Ohio, found out that insanity, frustration, stupidity and violence–perpetuated by a young man entering his school and shooting his classmates–cannot be relegated to one area and segregated from our safe havens. Life finds us.

So some folks smarten up and add a third consideration. “What will I do?” In other words, “Who will I meet?” (Let me try to control the guest list.) “What will happen?” (Stay away from weird opportunities.) Then additionally, “What will I do?” (If I find myself in a pickle, what’s my game plan?)

You have to admit, that has a bit more foresight to it than merely stepping off an airplane wearing a parachute that you didn’t pack. But here’s the problem–we really don’t KNOW what we will do. Most of us haven’t spent enough time in our own consciousness and emotions to really understand what freaks us and what tweaks us. Yes–there are things that really scare us to death and there are things that rejuvenate us to life. Do you know the difference? Can you identify them?

Because I contend there’s a fourth thing that has to be done–or what we do, what will happen and who we meet can be a precarious, slippery slope. And that fourth thing is, “Who am I–really?”

So since I believe that there’s going to be a game going on every day called life, and the stakes can sometimes be quite high, I want to make sure I’m quite acquainted with all the members of my team. I exercise my heart and emotions every day. I give my spirit a good running. I make sure my mind is well-oiled with reason, and I try to do my best to eat what’s cool instead of like a young fool. And then I do one more thing.

I rehearse.

That’s right. I rehearse. Rather than being afraid of terrorists, I take the time to put myself through the paces of what I would do if confronted in such a situation, based upon who I am. In the process I discover some hidden prejudices, some apprehensions and many inadequacies. So I rehearse.

I never go to meet somebody at a church who has been kind enough to invite me in to share without rehearsing how I would want to be treated, and considering what this fine individual may have been through in daily activity prior to my arrival. The most dangerous way to live on earth is without knowledge of oneself. To be so flippant and short-sighted as to think we can control who we meet, manipulate what happens or even guarantee what we will do is to weave our own spider web of self-entrapment. Who I am is much more important than anything else that will ever happen to me.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday, there was a news report about a man who was carjacked, suffered a broken leg and was crawling on the street. The broadcasters were appalled that people walked by without helping him.

Actually, it’s the identical scenario that Jesus told in the story of the Good Samaritan. In his tale, many people walked by a man who had been–well, in this case, I assume, donkey-jacked, and left for dead. They had their reasons for not stopping–mostly a determination that they had to be somewhere at some time as quickly as possible. The reason the story is called The Good Samaritan is that this Samaritan guy actually broke pattern, changed his plans and stopped, deciding to make this new situation his reality.

I will tell you this. He did not do this spontaneously. This man had rehearsed this many times before. He had thought over in his mind what he would do if he came across a traveler in distress. Spontaneity may be fun for sneaking up behind someone you love and giving them a kiss. But being spontaneous in life is acting as if we can actually manipulate all of our surrounding environment. It just won’t happen.

I rehearse. If I’m going to have dinner with my children, I rehearse complimenting the food, conversation I may wish to indulge in and inquiries which I will avoid (which make me the nosy father instead of the nurturing helper). If I’m going to go to the grocery store I make a list–especially of those items I am sure to forget–and carry it in my hand, so as not to walk out cursing the air because I forgot something.

Life is a performance–so rehearse. The heavens begin a new day with a rising sun and a shout of, “Play ball!”  You will quickly discover that who you meet is beyond your planning, what will happen is never completely within your grasp and what you will do might just shock you–unless you’ve already carefully considered who you are.

We’re going to do this thing called life once. We keep asking for do-overs, and when we plead, there is often an annoying giggle that comes from the sky. God is not mean, He’s just very practical. And if you let people be lazy and not aware of themselves, they will compound their own difficulties until they forfeit their free will. How unfortunate.

So feel free to go ahead and wonder about who you’re going to meet. Being human as we are, you might even want to muse over what will happen. It’s kind of fun to speculate on what you will do. But the most important thing is to know is who you are. And the only way to do that is by rehearsing courage, practicing concern and studying your own character–so you’re ready to play ball and pull out your best performance.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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