The Sweet Spot

I’m 63 years old, married to a lovely woman and we have a very kind son who makes us happy and proud.  We are both retired and fairly well off financially, We live where the air is fresh and the views are stunning, and we have a beautiful home. Our faith is strong. Our neighbors good. Even our dog is in her groove. She is almost eleven years old and she can practically speak the human language. She loves us and she certainly understands what we say to her. 

We can say definitively, we are blessed. But it has not appeared always so in the past. We have had trying times, struggles, and  losses of loved ones. We have been almost flat broke, our families life a mess, and business pretty much sucked at times. And if you include my pre-married life you could add debt, foolishness, arrogance, stupidity, and a deeply sinful existence. But this story is not about the bad stuff, nor a story of redemption or success.  It is simply about a point in time, a specific period in my life where I don’t believe it can get any better. The past had its say, it is the present I am writing about; it’s fashionable to be up to date!

I woke up this morning (when I wanted to) and as I lay in bed I was thinking about that very hour in my life. This is the “Sweet Spot,’ I thought.

To see this clearly you must know, that the day before today, my mom was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. She is still there today, she is exhausted but doing much better thank you. She is in good hands, and I think she will be just fine, at least for another season – Lord willing. You may see now why I launched into the moment. People often do this when they think about the fragility of life. We all know things can change in a heartbeat. For those of us older folks, we have experienced the heartbreak, the fear, and the tragedy in a jumbled second in time. But this time the tragic event did not happen, it was only a bitter warning, a sort of advance notice that sorrowful days, calamities, disastrous conclusions, and tragic dramas are yet ahead. 

In the dawn of the next day (today), and after knowing my mom was ok, my first impulse was to think about where I was in this moment. I awoke to the realization that this was sort of an axis point for me. On one side of the teeter totter the struggles of a growing faith, raising a child,  a lifetime of frugality, and responsibilities working and dealing with humanity, on the other, our future; the ailments of a deteriorating body, the pain of loss, and that damned convalescent home. Then there are those fears like plagues, earthquakes, persecutions, and broken hips and cancer. But today, this day, life was in perfect balance, and I had never thought so in the past. 

There are no present struggles, few worries, only the brief blemish of fear and misery thinking my mom was ill. We have no huge material aspirations or desires unachievable. We can go practically anywhere, do almost anything, and eat great food. Eating good food is a special blessing for us at this age! We have great friends, our son is doing well, our mom’s have been well, yet they are becoming old faster than we wish. We are blessed they are still here for us and us for them. Our love for God, our prayer life, our knowledge and faith is strong. We are healthy, and medicare is just around the corner, yea!  And Jackie and I are more in love than ever. We have all sorts of plans. 

If I’m forced to look back on the photos taken over the past year in retirement I realize how much fun we have had, how much we have done, it’s ridiculous!. Today, I talked to mom, went for a run, and my wife is making us a shrimp dinner. Tomorrow we get together with our community for snowshoe softball. In a week my wife gets to spend time with her mom and in a month we hit the road again in our van. “My cup runneth over; surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. SWEET!

Psalms 23

A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

To be God

I just finished reading a fantasy where I encountered magical creatures, unfamiliar wonders, epic battles, and revelations of transcendent truths. It opened a door into a world I have not traveled nor believed in till now. But more notably it made me think about God and what it would be like to be Him.

Perelandra

At once, in this new discovery, I struggled to step outside the frame of human perspective, but realized I could still imagine things. I’m not thinking about things possible, but the impossible, even more the divine. I know intellectually that things which appear to be accidental can be things designed, even matters like the distinction between a sunday drive and marriage can be linked. If we think hard the missing pieces can be imagined, the author helped me here. The author likewise showed me that is easier to see divine linkage in hindsight.

I have hurried to understand the images, the meaning, the processes of God’s plan for my present and future life. He has not made this too hard. His word, the orthodoxy of creeds, even the Holy Spirit are all here to guide me.

However, I do not here want to consider His revealed character. I shall rather imagine with effort what it means to be God in an imaginative sense. I do this not to transcend His will, because I cannot. I do it because I know whatever I can imagine He can do as long as it does not offend His character. I wish to explore things like “can He fly?” (Of course He can!). I ask, has he made worlds other than our own? Maybe! But could He? Of course, He’s God! Simple right? What about the angels? Are they transported into our lives by His command or do they just act on our behalf because they love Him; a sort of desire followed by duty.

When I read a good science fiction story I think , ” Wow, the author is so creative. His imaginations are so incredibly infeasible, except if he were God himself this could never happen.” I think, “but God can you make me fly? What is impossible for you?” Have you made a cave I follow to the center of the earth? Are the clouds bright yellow on Venus? Is the grass blue? Are there floating islands? Perhaps Lewis’s Perelandra is more than mental imagery? Could it have been a true noumenon, an imagined phenomenon revealed to only one man, authored in time, written as a fictional fantasy? What stops the Lord from giving to one person a gift that expresses an unknowable world? I think we call this Eden. Is Perelandra really a fantasy? What is Venus really like anyway? What stops you Lord from giving to me a recreative imagination? The ability to experience or think about the world or worlds from a different perspective, different from the perspective of everybody else or most everybody, and different from the perspectives that are practical and reasonable; what the world presents to us? Some call such thoughts the experiences or the wishes of a madman! The Apostle John should be called a “madman” today. And Christians madmen for believing the vision written in Revelations.

The whole idea that God is so much bigger than even a transcendent imagination blows my mind!

Think about art! What artist is greater than God? Can the painter create works equal to the real thing? Just imagine what real things are yet to be created by God? He is limitless! Can He run out of ideas? Ok, I’m impressed by many artists, certain artists. But when I think of God I can only thank Him for giving those artists the ability to imagine things outside the framework of my simple mind, and the skill to pull off the duty to express them. I have learned imagination is not a fools errand, it is a gift, but not a limitless one. All magnificence, all beauty, all renoun, all honor must then go to God; I can only be one through which He is honored. I can hardly imagine Him; I cannot be Him! It is much easier to believe in Him!