Grand moments can shape us, but perhaps not as much as the little moments that drip into streams that make up the raging rivers of life.
Write something inspirational, Maria says. Inspiration, like prayer can be public and personal. Historical and in the present. Equal parts joy and sorrow in the same thought. It can engulf our sight, arrive in irony or laughter or music that brings a smile or sob. Even a passing scent can cause us to pause and relive something of long ago. What seems trite one day can move me to tears another day. Lately, hugs are never long enough, a voice on a phone call or flickering images on a video chat is always too brief, and the taste of a loving meal too short. During the many days when I only have thimble full of patience, I fill my bucket with a rich stock of personal history.
What was, is and will be
My grandparents lived through the Great War (WWI) as children, a horrible flu pandemic, grew into the Great Depression in young adulthood, courted, got married and brought their first children into a world that began to crumble into WWII, after everyone hoped one world war was enough.
My Mom had life-long nightmares from WWII, yet was so full of hope. My Dad had a few toys he could build or buy, working as a youth on another nearby farm pulling weeds for a dime an hour after he finished his own chores. As children, my parents skirted polio until a vaccine was found. They worked and studied hard as children and youth, certainly more than they played. They knew horrible sorrows, saw and experienced abuse. Learned. Grew. Prayed. Worried. Prayed some more. Endured. And I listened to stories, keeping them ready to fill my bucket with patience, when a thimbleful was all I thought I had.
Thinking, saying, doing
Now with four children, two grandchildren and another grandchild on the way, I try to impart a little wisdom when asked, and sometimes, even when not asked. Just for a laugh, I’ll share some juxtaposition or absurd trivial detail with my wife, Denise, or her Mom, my Dad, aunt, sibling, or others. Sometimes I rehearse what I will say and do not say it, or start speaking without knowing where the thought will end. In general, listening is more difficult than talking, but often more appreciated. I fall short of wisdom. So many things are inexplicable, beyond my influence, though I remind the elected of what’s right and what’s wrong, when I can.
Uncertainty and change cause fear. Kindness and love bring comfort. Rage over injustice blinds us to what’s good. While a pandemic and the response is more horrible than inconvenient, I hope we can grow and learn and do for each other. I expect people I know will die before it’s over, even as I’m doing all the isolating, hand-washing, wipe-downs, and mask-wearing as I can stand, and little more.
Seeing the little things in life
One of my grandparents told me to enjoy a little bit of life every day, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. For me, that can happen by:
- Playing peek-a-boo with a two-year-old grandson in the video camera of a smart phone because he’s two states away, and it’s been two seasons since we’ve been together.
- Walking dogs with a five-year-old granddaughter, playing laughable learning games as we go (how to create colors, flower quizzes, opposites, which is farther, I spy, rhymes, and others). My heart leaps when I hear, “Another one, Grandpa!”
- Having a camera in my pocket when seeing an intriguing photo (family, flowers, sunset, supper, a bird, bug, or anything with an odd angle, shape, color, or combination) ... then being able to share it with friends.
- Running with dogs, with some squirrel sprints, and biking, the nearest thing to flying without leaving the ground.
- Completing anything, and planning the next thing.
- Picking up a conversation with one of my adult children, family or old friends right where we left off as if it were yesterday.
- Listening to Church of the Holy Spirit mass live stream on Sunday and tearing up knowing that others are participating in the Word, song, and ritual at the same time, one in Spirit, even if we haven’t been in the same place for so many weeks.
Sorry to be a drip, but may each of you find joy amid sorrows, expose injustice, and see bits of beauty in the torrents of life along the way. Peace be with you. Stay safe.
-Mark T. Hoske, part of the Church of the Holy Spirit since 1998