A Little Life, Please

My life is

little, paltry, hardly

seen, but being

human is that: more

minutia than magna.

 

Cutting lawn, cleaning stove, shuffling paper, reconciling calendars, building with broken legos.

 

Your life is

little, but it is the

marginal alone, that

slide in between, that

slip through the fence so to see

chipmunk’s cheeky treasure, to hear

robin’s cantata, to witness

tree’s rotation.

 

Our life is

little, but the little alone

become breathless, beholding

the world in their

hands.

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For Mom

Today we laid my dear mother Lakadia (Kay) Jorgenson (née Sommer) to rest. She died on October 2, 2013 at the age of 84 years. Her four children were at her side and she died in peace. Mom was someone who loved to cook for, care for and welcome others. She taught me lessons I am still learning and for her I wrote the following which was printed on her funeral card.

Tenaciously
her chest rises, falls
breathing in, breathing out
bearing witness to the glory of the
Lord who succored this sojourner from
Poland to Ponoka and points in between:
Pier 21, New Sarepta, Edmonton, Wilson Siding.
She mirrored mother earth in giving birth – groaning
in travail as she awaited the day of groaning no more. In
faith she stitched service into socks and kindness into afghans.
In hope she sowed compassion among beans and barley and berries.
Lovingly she kneaded care into bread that fed family, friends, and
wayfarers too. With a soft grace she tended Ken until his end
and then, at hers, Your wings wrapped her round as
her breath wound down – like a butterfly slowing
its beating wings into a posture of prayer.
At the last, Holy Breath, You took
her to Your breast where You
held, where You hold her
tenaciously.

Love, Allen

Ridiculously Rich

Every now and then it strikes me that I am ridiculously rich.

 

I have a family that loves me.  I have work that is meaningful and colleagues whom I enjoy.  I have good health, and am oddly enamored with walking, which allows me to realize that the world is a strange and wondrous place.  I find myself believing in a God who is merciful; neither deterministic nor indifferent. 

 

My life isn’t perfect, but I don’t expect perfection and am okay with blips in my life.  Sometimes I even laugh at them, which brings me to a comment I heard at a youth event last night where I spoke on behalf of my school.  “How are things going?” I asked one of the leaders, wondering how things had evolved throughout the weekend.  “Good.  In fact too good!” was her reply.  “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, things just can’t go this well; I’m afraid something is around the corner.”

 

I understand her anxiety.  In fact I share it.  When things are going well, I too get nervous.  After all, I reason, nobody deserves ridiculous riches, including yours truly!  Why do we think this way?  Are we dealing with deeply hidden, yet powerfully prevailing expectations of corrections?  Do we imagine our lives to be like the stock market; hoping for a certain incline in fortune, yet recognizing that market corrections are inevitable?  Are we suspicious of ridiculous riches, and happy to settle for solid yet certain gains?  Do we expect the worst; and derive a softer satisfaction from skirting disappointments?

 

Perhaps there is too much self-analysis in the above?

 

Maybe, but probably not; in fact it seems that some analysis of sources of pleasure and pain is a fitting and salutary strategy.   It is good to know the why of our grins and whence of our tears.  And as I do precisely this, it seems to me that too often I expect a lot from tomorrow and never cash in on today; where I find joy in a flower’ s fragrance, in a wine’s bouquet, in a word well turned.

 

In the end it seems that what most matters is a return to life’s simplicity in the midst of the chaos that simply is.  Such a return enables us to see “riches” differently; neither a question of desert nor destiny but attention. This attention comes as both gift and discipline; sometimes together, sometimes apart, but always with the startling realization that there is more:  more than we can ask or imagine.