Category: philosophy

I love music.  With the exception of rap and jazz, I love every kind of music from 70’s rock to classical and everything in between.  Music moves me emotionally (soundtrack, Somewhere in Time), spiritually (Ginny Owens, If You Want Me To), and at times physically (Blackfoot’s Train, Train, or Kirk Franklin’s Stomp).  This morning was different – I got all three in one song.  Driving home from an appointment with a new eye doctor in one of those rare instances when no one was in the car with me, I was actually listening to my station of choice on the radio.  The song started playing and immediately caught my attention because it opened with a piano solo.  A bit of a haunting melody, I turned up the volume.  And then she started singing.  The first few words grabbed me and I turned up the volume again.  By the time I she reached the chorus I had pulled over on the side of the road and stopped the car. 

I’ve been hearing a lot about burdens lately.  The cares of this world.  Trials. Storms. Thorns. In general, the stuff of life that pulls us down. Talk to your friends, ask your neighbors, strike up a conversation with a total stranger, everyone is struggling with something. And for all of our “don’t get too close; don’t ask me to open up” masks and barriers, most people are quick to share the weight of their heart.  Bad times have a way of leveling the playing field.  We all feel a kindred-ness of spirit.  My pastor has been dealing with this subject a good bit lately.  Even our old (very old) friend Job, from the oldest book in the Bible, suffered the unimaginable loss of his property, his crops, and tragically, his children.  His initial reaction was shock and grief, but unbelievably tempered with insight and understanding.  Job 2:10 records these words which Job spoke to his wife, “…shall we accept good from God, but not trouble?”

It’s hard accepting trouble.  We are born into this world naked, cold, and screaming.  Someone clothes us, cuddles us, and speaks tenderly to us. And we are calmed.  Expectation established.  In those very early moments of our lives, we somehow develop the belief system that trouble should never darken our door.  Heartache should never touch our family.  Disappointment and frustration should never furrow our brow. But we know, we know, trouble is never far away.  Someone once said that we are either coming out of a valley, in the middle of a valley, or heading into one.  I personally feel like I’ve been in a valley for quite some time.  Not of anyone’s doing or not doing, simply the stuff of life.  Which is why the song I was listening to on the radio hit me right between my frustrated mind and disappointed heart.

The song gave me perspective.  Helped me shake off my self-imposed assumption that I’m being ignored by God.  Even spanked me firmly on my seat of self-pity.  What if, as the song says, God loves us too much to give us the lesser things?  For you, wherever life has brought you this day, in this moment, stop.  Listen to the music and words of this beautifully simple, deeply profound work of art. 


This morning while washing the late-night edition of yesterday’s dishes I was looking out the window above my kitchen sink. The view is not particularly inspiring.  There are shapeless, overgrown holly bushes on either side of the window and a little ‘V’-shaped island a few feet away which separates our yard from the neighbor’s.  As much as I love to garden, I’ve failed miserably at creating anything of beauty in this particular area of our yard.  The sun plants don’t get enough sun and the shade plants don’t get enough shade. Hmmmm.  However, in spite of all my digging, planting, killing, digging, planting, and killing, there is one small hosta plant that seems to make its way up out of the ground about this time every year. 

As I looked up from my soapy water I noticed a fat little chipmunk making its way across the railroad tie border into the island.  He moved so fast and was so dark brown that I almost had trouble keeping up with him.  Mr. Chipmunk darted around in no apparent pattern stopping here and there to sniff or dig through the mulch, raising his head every few seconds to watch for predators.  He would then scurry back across the railroad ties and disappear; I assume he has made his home somewhere behind or under the railroad ties.  This pattern continued for several minutes.  I was quite amused and thankful for the mental vacation as I neared the end of the dish pile.  Then I looked just beyond the island to see a large gray fur ball making its way toward the island.  You guessed it, a cat was headed straight for that railroad tie wall.  Well, I was hooked now!  National Geographic’s got nothin’ on what was about to happen outside my window.

With amazing premeditation, Miss Kitty stepped gingerly into the island and settled herself on the high side of my stubborn little hosta plant.  Tail curled up and still as a statue, she waited.  And I stood frozen at the window, willing that little chipmunk not to stick its head out.  In hindsight I should have just bumped my fist against the window and scared her away but for some reason I just stood there watching.  Waiting.  Just like Miss Kitty.

Well, you guessed it.  Mr. Chipmunk stepped out, climbed up on that railroad tie wall and wham! It was all over.  In one graceful, quick-as-lightning moment, Miss Kitty caught her brunch.  I felt sorry for the chipmunk but in awe of the cat.  I know, I know, survival of the fittest and all.  But it somehow seemed unfair that Miss Kitty had a huge advantage to be able to use my hosta plant as stealth cover!  She sauntered off to enjoy the fruit (or meat) of her kill and I let my hands – which had a death grip on the edge of the sink – fall to my side.

Am I worried about the family Mr. Chipmunk left behind?  A little.  Am I impressed with the instinct, speed, and agility of Miss Kitty?  You bet.  I know in theory that it is the ‘circle of life’ and that some animals have to die for others to live. Nature at its honest-authentic-and-real best.  How strange that the “ewww” and the “ahhhh” can co-exist in my brain, in nature, and in life. 

It is indeed life in all of its (sometimes) miserable glory.

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