Thursday, January 1, 2015

The year in the Rear View

Right about now, we are all enduring countless looks back at 2014. The best of this, the worst of that. On and on and on. And ON.  But, this exercise is actually biblical. Paraphrasing part of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report”.  We are advised to “think on these things”. So, I prefer to look back on the good, and only reflect on the bad long enough to shake it off and move on.
One big lesson I was reminded of this year is to be careful what you wish for. As a writer, I have followed the custom of choosing one particular word to guide my year. At the beginning of this past one, I chose the word “Agile”.  I visualized myself waiting on the tennis court, racquet in hand, ready for whatever life should lob my way. Ever watchful, ready to react. A healthy attitude, right?
So, before the year was half over, I was offered a new day job. I was not unhappy with the existing one. It was exciting new territory for me, and with very pleasant and professional co-workers. But, over the net the new offer came, and each time I batted it away, it came back. Finally, due to the persistence of the swatter on the other side of the court, I made the leap. The result, on this side of the net, I am appreciated and comfortable, in a more familiar landscape. Agility and flexibility paid off in a big way.
Another lesson, Love has no age limit. A very dear in-law of mine finally had the dream-come- true wedding she had longed for.  At this stage in life, there was no need for an elaborate or expensive plan. The event occurred at the annual family reunion (keep those redneck jokes to yourself, thank-you). Rain caused the whole thing to be moved from a city park to a church fellowship hall, but this much loved couple was celebrated properly with smiles, hugs, and of course lots of food at the indoor picnic that followed. In the words of a recent celebrity from Louisiana- “Happy, Happy, Happy.”
I learned that one of the most valuable jobs in our current culture is that of “Estate sale coordinator”. I found myself emotionally and physically overwhelmed by the task of sorting through, distributing and disposing of generations of possessions and memorabilia. Enter a very compassionate young woman with wonderful hugs and an energetic family. She helped me move, box up and throw out what seemed to be mountains of . . . Stuff. She had an eye for things that might be of monetary value, and the connections to verify that fact. She also possessed the sensitivity to spot things that might be meaningful, and meant to be passed along to kids, grands, and greats. Of course, we were helped in this regard by notes from the owner- “Important, Keep This.” When all was said and done, each family member had a few precious items to treasure. There was also enough money to be divided up so that we could each add to our own collections of important stuff.
An obvious fact I was reminded of is that one piece of news can change everything, especially when that news announces a new baby on the way. I had two of these announcements on my radar this year.
One was from a young lady whose path through life has never been easy. She communicates with me infrequently from miles away, using texts and social media. This prompted a helpless feeling, as I walked the line between judging the bad decisions she has made, and reminding her how much she is loved and valued. I assumed the role of  Jiminy Cricket, reminding of her of what she knows are the right things to do, and offering a listening ear and lots of prayers when needed. Long distance love, along with an occasional package of warm clothes for the new little one and treats for her mommy will be the best I can offer.
In contrast, our family is also expecting a new arrival in the Sunshine State. Grandchild number five will have every benefit of lots of loving relatives and friends. In advance of his arrival just after the first of the coming year, he already has a name, and a nursery full of furniture and clothing. His parents are absorbing advice, trying not to worry, enjoying each moment.  For his Arkie Grandpa and me, the coming year promises to be one of quick weekend trips to the south and east, with maybe a longer vacation thrown in.
Meanwhile, we will enjoy every chance we get with the current offspring. Beaming proudly at basketball and baseball games, chattering on the telephone about scout meetings and band concerts, finding special recipes to cook together.
As you can see, I don’t spend long looking back. Borrowing a phrase from a more recent philosopher- “The future’s so bright, I’ve got to wear shades!” Oh, and the word for this year- “Proclaim!” I am resolving to get the word out, in any way possible. You’ll definitely be hearing more from me.

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