Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Change is Coming...

Many changes, I hope.

Blogspot has been taken over by Google, and we are being required to switch over or be banned from our blogs. I'm pondering a break from blogging for a while. Perhaps a switch to some other form of communication.

I will be teaching a course on spiritual journaling at my church in January. There is much preparation to be done for that class.

I am planning another month-long trip to Spain with the children in the late spring. So much to do: We must find an apartment, make the necessary arrangements to rent it, and plan adventures during our sojourn in the country that has captured my heart.

I am in the middle of reading through a pile of books that has been calling my name for a good long time. Many thoughts of simplicity, solitude, silence, reflection, and rejuvenation.

Tears flow as I pray for a friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer on the membrane around his eyeball. I still pray regularly for Laurie, the widow who lost her young son back in April. The wife of a former pastor was paralyzed in a biking accident a few weeks ago. There is much to mourn.

But there are also many reasons to rejoice: Thanksgiving is just a few days away. I have so much for which to give thanks. My own good health and a clean bill of health written up for the kids this past week - their radiant, glowingly beautiful, and very pregnant pediatrician complimented them both on how much and how well they have grown in the past year. The very fact that, for most of their lives, they have visited the doctor only once per year - for their well visits - is reason enough to rejoice. They have both been chosen as members of the local rec program's basketball teams. Daniel's baseball team won the league championship for his age group last Thursday night. And then he was invited to the homes of three children from teams he'd beaten. Talk about popular! Just today, two women asked me to teach a class on journaling; I had the pleasure of telling them that just such a class is in the works.

Last night, we were invited to dinner in celebration of the birthday of one of Daniel's teammates. The homeowners had the forethought and the money (!) to purchase the empty lot behind their home and had a swimming pool and outdoor kitchen built. Beautiful. Tasteful. Luxurious.

Twelve or fifteen of us stood poolside on an unseasonably warm November evening, eating, drinking, laughing, telling stories, watching our children run and play carelessly. I was overwhelmed with awe at the beauty of the setting, honored to have been invited to participate in the festivities, and silenced by the realization that ours, that mine, is truly a blessed life. We see and live among such wealth, such privilege, and such responsibility.

Food, clothing, cars, houses, rolling lawns, bubbling hot tubs, outdoor fireplaces, plasma televisions, computers, shopping plazas, Starbucks, California Pizza Kitchen, Barnes and Noble, Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms, full bellies, and empty complaint boxes. Life is grand. Couldn't be finer.

But what will it profit us if we gain the whole world - and that's how it felt last night, as if every one of us has the whole world by the tail - and lose our souls? What have we gained? I wondered what all this wealth and comfort cost us. How much time we ought to spend with our children is spent working endless hours in order to afford all the stuff we give to them instead of giving ourselves? How much of the mental and emotional energy that we spend on mowing lawns, washing expensive cars, buying more stuff to fill our increasingly large homes, and then paying the bills for all of it could be better spent reading, creating art, and laughing together with those we love?

But enough of the third person theatrics.
Enough of the first person plural flourishes.
I've got to make it personal.
What will I do with the many gifts I've been given?
What difference will my life make in the lives of others?
How will I bless someone else with my life?
How does simplicity fit into the context of my complex life?
Is there room for solitude and silence in my noisy and busy world?
Can I afford to shut those things out for much longer?
What matters more than peace that passes understanding,
than unspeakable joy,
than contentment and gratitude in all circumstances?

Yes, a change is coming.
Hopefully, many changes.
I'm not sure what. I'm not sure when. I'm not sure how.
But something's gotta give.

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