“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it,-but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”–Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, 1858, p.105.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is a society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and the music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all
George Gordon, Lord Byron
Last weekend, my Dad picked me and my kids up from the airport. This was the first time I have seen him since he has retired. He looked good, however, I did notice that at age 76 Jim was showing some age. Not so much in his appearance, but his frame looked a little more stooped and his walk was more of an old man shuffle. However, for all I could know Mr. Triathlete was probably breaking in his new Nike running shoes. My Dad would most likely deny any aging and probably give me a good spanking for writing such nonsense–and given the shape he is in I have no doubt he could still pull this off.
I don’t know why but when I notice aging in my parents I immediately become alarmed and my observation of all their movements is heightened in hopes that I might be mistaken. I also become more sympathetic towards them because I see them becoming vulnerable to time. I know they are mortal, but I prefer to push that thought way down into the creases and folds of my puny mind. A parent’s existence just is, like ephemeral air, the steady rocks, and the mighty mountains. Like Hostess Twinkies and cockroaches parents should be indestructible. Maybe after thousands of years, they should cease to exist, but it’s hard to imagine it happening in my lifetime.
For some reason beyond just mere biology, it seems they were chosen to be my parents in this life and I their child and here we are, messing up our lives’ as if this treasured mess was meant to be. No matter how well we know the good and bad of each other’s personalities, we instinctively recognize we both need each other to be “us”. I know I am very fortunate to still have mine in my life and know not everyone gets the opportunity to have their parents live as long mine have. But, I can’t imagine how different life would be without them and how empty it would seem. It makes life seem somehow meaningless if this deep and ineffable bond between a parent and child just ceased to exist.
For this I am grateful to know that what should be a natural extension of this life in order to have it make sense is indeed true and that there can be more to our relationship than just what takes place during our wee slice of time together here on earth.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”–African Proverb
Don’t look for flaws as you go thru life
And even when you find them
It’s wise and kind to be somewhat blind
And look for the virtue behind them
The cloudiest night has a hint of light
Somewhere in the shadows hiding
It’s better by far to hunt for a star
Than the spots on the sun abiding
The current of life runs ever away
To the bosom of God’s great ocean
Don’t set your force against the river’s course
And think to alter its motion
Don’t waste a curse on the universe
Remember it lived before you
Don’t butt at the storm with your puny form
But bend and let it go o’er you
This world will never adjust itself
To suit your whims to the letter
Some things must go wrong as it says in the song
The sooner you know it the better
Its folly to fight with infinite
And go under at last in the wrestle
The wiser person shapes into God’s great plan
As water shapes into a vessel
O Voice that calls me from distant places
I have not seen, but visioned in a dream
Thy sound compelling startles my contentment
In this safe harbor from the tossing streams.
O Voice—I know Thee who Thou art; Strong Captain,
Master of ships and men and of the sea,
There is no night can ‘fright’ Thee, nor a tempest
Can cast away the soul embarked with Thee.
Thine eyes have searched the ancient farthest ocean,
Full-sailed Thy ship drives onward toward the day;
I hear Thy summons to that distant voyage;
It is a cry no wind can hurl away.
I hear Thee and I answer, O my Captain,
I will aboard and quickly put to sea,
For where Thou art ‘tis better than a harbor,
And in the breeze beside Thee I am free.
O Voice That Calls To Me—R.B.Y. Scott
Man of Song and Man of Science,
Truly you are as people on the outside of a house,
And one of you only sees that it is made of stone, and it’s windows of glass, and that fire burns
In the hearth,
And the other of you sees that the house is beautiful and very human…
Machinery is enough for the Scientist,
And Beauty is enough for a Poet,
But in the hearts of men and women, and in the thirsty heart of little children
There is a hunger, and there is an unacceptable longing…
The Priest—James Oppenheim
…Seeking forever an invisible goal
For deeper beauty always hungering
Yet never nearing the desired height,
For hidden it waits beyond us, and the whole
Of life is but a pilgrimage, to wring
From chaos one star burning in the night.
Pilgrimmage—Blance Shoemaker Wagstaff
The lights along the shore at night
Make spokes of flame upon the sea;
These twinkling shafts radiate
From where I stand, the hub of me.
Imagination the long rim
So swiftly treads a road of stars
The wheel kicks up the years in hills,
The dust of peace, the drift of wars.
The spokes now probe around for God
And in the nest of search I lie
Close to the miracle of the man
Who walked the waters and the sky.
The Hub—Oscar Williams
There is a downside to ordaining the self with divine authority…We humans are fickle creatures and [our] natures-however, sacred-can mislead us.-The Foul Reign of “Self-Reliance”, Benjamin Anastas, The Best American Essays 2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston/New York, 2012.
One does not have to be a religious believer to grasp that the core values of Western Civilization are grounded in religion, and to be concerned that the erosion of religious observance therefore undermines those values and the ‘secular ideas’ they reflect.-The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power, Melanie Phillips, 1st American Edition, Encounter Books, 2010.
“Our society is not held together just by law and its enforcement, but most importantly by voluntary obedience to the unenforceable and by widespread adherence to unwritten norms of right or righteous behavior.”–Preserving Religion Freedom, Dallin H. Oaks, February 2011.