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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Directions our Lives Take

This morning the radiance of sun almost seemed like an affront, considering the week's news. The murders of four innocent and honorable police officers sitting in a Lakewood, Washington coffee shop, 30,000 more soldiers heading to Afghanistan, and other stories, dominate our minds. In contrast, the morning's cold clarity, the stark bare trees, seemed like a metaphor for the realities of our world.

I am a student of history, a constant reader, one who ponders the endless quests, quarrels, and mistakes of mankind. Some days I question what it's all about and where it will end. And yet we persist in both our suffering and our joy.

I think about the choices we make, the split second decisions that spin the weather vanes of our lives around and change everything. Then there are the choices other people make that affect us too. The lives of the families of those police officers, the families of fallen soldiers, the families of people who in this same week might have learned of a terminal illness or lost their jobs, just changed forever. The words we speak, the phone calls made or never made, the decisions to drive down a certain highway or not, all alter our fate.

What a mystery life is, and how crazy our continued turmoil. We humans ravage the land and each other, and yet within each of us, even the most deranged and destructive, there must be, I would hope, some small spark of goodness and love, or at least once was. Who cannot, upon waking to a day like this, see the beauty of the world? Who has never held a small, trusting child, or petted a dog, or heard music that moved them to tears? But to learn that the family of a killer heard and failed to report his threats to kill, makes me wonder.

Yesterday afternoon, about 4:30, my phone rang. "I know this sounds silly," my friend Liz said, "but I was driving down the road and I just had to pull over and call you. It's the rising moon. Did you see it? It looked so huge and so beautiful it was just amazing. I know most people aren't even going to notice it, but I thought of your rainbow story and I knew you would."

I had to laugh. "I love this about you, Liz," I told her. "To think you knew I'd care about how the rising moon looked, just makes my day. And it's true: there are people like us, and then there are 'the others'."

Maybe we're both a little crazy, but even in the face of sadness and worry, I can't believe it is wrong to still be aware of the beauty around us. Even those who are gone, would wish us that. Take heart and persevere, in memory of them. There is still good in the world.

Thanks Liz.

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