Monday, January 09, 2012

A Light Shining in the Darkness

Gratitude… It’s an odd thing really. What is the use of gratitude? Acknowledging someone’s goodness or charity does what? As far as I can tell it is only useful as encouragement to continue a certain type of behavior… But WHY is gratitude encouraging? Why don’t we say “To hell with your thanks, I’m doing what’s right and that’s all there is to it”? Why do we need someone to pat us on the head and tell us “good job”? In order to be honest I must say I have no idea – but I know it’s important. Not only important for the person receiving the gratitude, but more so for the one giving it. It is a bold thing to give someone credit: to say to them we understand that what they are doing is the right thing, or the just thing, or the kind thing. By proclaiming the goodness of someone else we are saying that we have a fundamental understanding of what “goodness” is, or what justice or kindness are. And we do, don’t we? We have always known; will always know. Knowing that humanity was made in the image of God, and therefore inherently good, we cannot help having this understanding. Gratitude has always played a large role in my life. Nearly every unselfish act I commit is done out of gratitude. Gratitude for my mother’s love, gratitude for my friend’s acceptance, gratitude for God’s mercy; I’m sure this is the case for most people. But I am at this moment faced with the burden of being grateful where I feel no gratitude is deserved. No good was done, no secret kindness was observed. How am I to be unselfish when I have no gratitude to warrant it? Some might say they are selfless for its own sake and some might even be telling the truth, but I have a suspicion that most do not know themselves as well as they think. It takes a great deal of heroic effort to be truly selfless. If it comes easily to us, chances are we are not really being selfless at all but are merely attempting to repay some ethereal debt – whether we know it or not.

Think very hard for a moment. Think about the most recent thing you have done which you consider to be “selfless”. Then ask yourself why you did it. Do not be content if “just because” is the first answer that pops into your head. Really try to figure it out. Was it because you hoped someone would do the same for you one day? Was it because you wanted those around you to look at you and see you as something really special? Was it because you wanted to be able to say to yourself “look at what a good boy I was”? If these or others like these were not the reasons for
your action then I applaud you (because you have done well) and I apologize for wasting your time. But if you are anything like me you might begin to see that all of these wonderful things you have done out of “selflessness” were a little more shady than you thought. Please don’t misunderstand; I do not mean to berate or discourage acts of kindness or charity, even if our reasons are somewhat different than what we believed. I’m not trying to go into those ridiculous, endless philosophical circles either. I am faced with a genuine problem and am trying to do “good” even though I am finding it very difficult to find a reason to do so. I say “reason” but what I really mean is “a reason that in some way will benefit myself”. And I’m not talking of a simple selfish reason like “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”; I’m speaking of those little, secret reasons for which we (or at least, I) will do something “selfless” – the reasons we don’t even know are there. I can think of only one example to follow in all of history that is above reproach, and that man died over two thousand years ago. God taught us how to do it – how to take our “self” out of the equation. And I always thought I knew how until this moment. I have no doubt he will teach me. This lifetime of anger and judgment may have been so difficult simply so that I would be faced with this and have to learn God’s lesson from it. God does weird stuff like that. There have been countless times throughout my life when I have wished God would simply possess my body and do the right thing for me. But God will not do that. I imagine he won’t do it for the same reason a teacher will not pick up a child’s homework and do it for him – the child must learn. Maybe I’m making too much of all this “gratitude” business. Is it not enough to simply be grateful? Yes, it is nice to be praised and, funny enough, it often feels good to praise others. Is it inherently wrong to be grateful because it feels good? Or to accept gratitude for the same reason? Maybe what I wrote at the beginning IS why God created gratitude – to encourage us. I still am not certain. What I am certain of is that is it good. Perhaps that should be enough for me and I should leave it at that.

I have been lucky enough to have had several times in my life, four in point of fact, when I was overwhelmed with joy. And the gratitude I felt for receiving that joy was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. If heaven were overflowing with one thing, I believe it would be gratitude. However much joy, or beauty, or love heaven contains, I feel that the gratitude of those experiencing it must match or even exceed those things combined. I have recently been blessed with a strange sense of gratitude I have experienced only once before, after the death of a very dear friend of mine. Something has ended; something great and beautiful - alive. And while sadness and loneliness naturally follow, one cannot help but be thankful. True, whatever happened has ended – but it happened. It existed. Even if just for a moment, it was there. I got to see it, hear it, be near it, and touch it. I am grateful for the time I was given because I could have easily been given none. I was allowed what everyone else who has ever existed has been denied… those moments were mine. An unlikely emotion, no? It shines out and emblazons the markers of truth and beauty on this long, hard road. It reminds us what was good, and helps guide our future toward the same. Humble breadcrumbs telling us what the good paths looked like, and what the new paths should contain. Be thankful friends; gratitude is a light shining in the darkness.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Waste of space

So it's been a while. I'm not sure if anyone still reads this thing. Especially after the opossums (I don't blame you). Maybe I was a little too excited about them... meh. To each his own. So I am now "educated" and am applying to medical schools. And though maybe I should feel accomplished, I do not. I feel a waste. I think it's just that feeling of knowing you could be better or have done better with everything. It's so rare when a person does their "best". Sure we try, but we almost never do the best we can do. We try to put in as much as "it" takes and no more. I think the difference between people is what the "it" is. For example the people in school right now. Some are there because the "it" they are striving for is a degree. C's get degrees - so they do enough to get C's. Others care less about the degree and instead have the "it" as being the top of their class. So they get A's. The human condition - get as much as possible for as little work as possible. I got mostly B's with a few A's scattered here and there. What does that make me? Obviously I wanted my degree so I had to get at least C's. But I obviously didn't care about being the best so I didn't always get A's. So What does that mean? I wanted to be above average? Lame. I really hope that's not the case. Problem is I don't know what my "it" is. Maybe I'm just giving a different name to what better thinkers than I have called our "purpose". I don't know why God put me here.... I suppose very few do. I know what I WANT to do - I want to be a doctor. I want to help people. I want to be a hero to somebody. But I don't know if that's what God wants for me, and that's kind of scary. What I do know is that whatever "it" is will be better than anything I could have come up with on my own. And while I hope I get to be a doctor, I know better than telling God I accept his will and then trying to go and do my own thing anyway. He doesn't like that. And it always ends up hurting in the end because I am selfish. We'll see. I hope he lets me know soon though - I don't like being a waste of space.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Screwtape

So I've been reading Mere Christianity again followed by the screwtape letters... Both amazing books. C.S. Lewis is able to articulate so much that I feel... and even a lot of things I didn't know I felt! It's unsettling how accurate a lot of screwtape's arguments are... I've heard plenty of the whispers myself, and I'm sure anyone who reads the book would find the same thing. Whether they feel it is the same thing whispering to them as I do is another story I suppose. C.S. also talks a lot about the things Christians (or those interested in Christianity) prefer not to think about. It's infuriating how easy and how extremely difficult Christianity is. Either one is "fine" by itself but the combination of the two is jawdropping. But when I think about it - how could He have made it any different? The problem we face is not simple - so why should the answer be simple? I find I get a great deal of help from these books. Maybe from Christian Literature all together in fact. My mind tends to wander around "real" life and I get sucked into the void wondering the whole time: "I know where I am supposed to be - why can't I get there?" I think books and "spirited conversation" (pun intended) have been critical in reminding me of what is really important.
Something I've been trying in earnest to keep on top of is my logic. C.S. reminded me of the importance of that. "Think! As though your soul depended on it!" probably sums up that memory. Although the sense of urgency is more of a subtle invitation as opposed to a command. I've been trying not to use any other form of making decisions. It doesn't always work - I'm a Mohoroski - but I am trying. I feel closer to God in my thinking when I am using logic. More "clean" if you take my meaning. Like washing the dirt from the roots of a plant. I know the bleeding hearts will say "NO! You cannot only rely on logic! You have to follow your dreams and sometimes risk it all if thats what it takes!" And they are quite right. Logic itself would agree with this. Why would I only rely on one single facet when one just as GOOD and just as God given as logic? An Important thing I have learned though is this: When one is in harmony with the spirit, logic and heart are the same color. Indistinguishable. That is what I am trying to be. Like I said: easy AND difficult.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 17, 2010 (Opossom)

Can you see the eyes in this first one?





































This is my opossom friend. I was sitting outside talking to Lucie on the phone and two of them just wandered on by without a care in the world! We didn't seem to mind each other much :)

January 16, 2010 (Last minute)


Yes, this is a last minute photo. I'm apparently not very good at this... but I'll keep trying! I've always wanted to get a picture of two mirrors flush against each other - I don't know what that would look like... anyway - this is the eye-ball of the camera...

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010 (birthmark)


This is me waiting for Lucie to get done on the computer... She was getting pretty mad at you mr. Blog. You kept transforming her picture uploads into HTML format... AND you don't copy and paste - which I admit is annoying. One can actually see my birthmark in this picture... Hmph. Lucie asked me today if kids used to make fun of me for it... I suppose they did - but not so much that I was traumatized by it, or ever even cared. My mom told me once that it was where God touched me. Maybe thats why I was never really ashamed of it... and it makes me feel cool if its true! Thank you momma :)

January 14, 2010 (Cookies 'n milk)


I think this one is pretty self-explanitory... I've been hired to make greeting cards and this is my first theme! Wait... what? No, it was what you first thought it was - I'm a fatty. Pretty sure this is my favorite "junk" food.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 13, 2010 (Pine cone)


I found this little pine cone in my back yard, and picked it up for Lucie. She likes little stuff - little acorns, little toys... Hippos. I haven't had a chance to give it to her yet but I thought it was cute. It's amazing to me how something so small can grow into something so huge. I think that's true for a lot of things in our lives - we start small, and with a little time, hard work, and God given grace - we can make it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 12, 2010 (little light)


So Noelle started blogging a picture she takes every day of the year. Then Lucie thought it was a fantastic idea and started her own. I'm told "the man may be the head but the woman is the neck". Which is a long way of saying "I'm doing it now too". It's a fun thing though so why not? I thought for an inordinate amount of time about what my first picture should be of... and in case you can't figure it out - it's a light in my bathroom. I didn't take the picture because it was beautiful or interesting... I took it because it's not. I feel bad for all the little things that are never "worthy" enough to be used or have pictures taken of them. This particular light hasn't worked for several years and is rusting all along the outside. It just sits there. And some day in the not too distant future I'm sure it will be removed and thrown away or destroyed. So the honor of the first picture belongs to it. Because even when it is long gone, I will look back on my blog and remember that it existed. That it was here. Good luck little light.