Category: Perceptions


Siri awakened me Monday morning at 3:14 to a groggy beginning of an anticipated adventure.
The coming series of new experiences and discoveries was inaugurated by the discovery that we had no water, so there would be no shower. Oh well, I thought, to hike to the top of the Caribbean’s highest peak, I should think that body odor will likely be my lot for the next five days anyway.

Pico Duarte Trip - 1With my backpack stuffed and ready, I rendezvoused with my fellow adventurers at school and prepared for our nighttime bus ride to the Dominican Republic’s famous peak. In the restroom just before we left I noticed a rather large wild-eyed tree frog eyeing me from the opposite wall—just before he leaped on me and made me scream like a girl.

15 hours later I was standing alone, drenched, muddied and exhausted in a cold puddle in the fog and rain wondering if I’d make it to the day’s destination before it was night, and if the symptoms I was experiencing made me a candidate for exposure. Thinking I just had to be close, I was dismayed to be contradicted by the sign that indicated 4.7 km to go. Fatigue, blisters, and the grace of God were my three companions as I soldiered on, reproaching myself that I had let a little miscommunication separate me from the group behind me and the group already there.

Pico Duarte Trip - 3Pico Duarte Trip - 2When at last I spied lights in the deepening dusk, I knew the joy of a weary traveler finding a port in the storm. My relief was altered a bit by the discovery that the entire contents of my backpack were sodden and dripping. There seemed to be no place to hang anything to dry, so a few selected garments and sleeping gear were hung in the damp communal area and some by the fire. I found them later as wet as ever under mounds of soaked clothing placed over my items by later arrivals. I slept a little, despite the cold, the hard floor and the occasional braying of the pack-mules.

On the following day (Tuesday), with everyone rested, we were eager to ascend the remaining 500 meters and 5 km to the summit. On many other days I suppose one could have seen a spectacular panorama seated by that bust of Juan Pablo Duarte. But we could see little more than he could, perched on an island of rock that appeared to float in a sea of cloud. Yet, undaunted we returned to La Compartición where the sun had been shining and our clothes were left drying. It was raining when we got back and it kept on falling into the late afternoon.

Pico Duarte Trip - 7 Pico Duarte Trip - 8Having already traversed 28km, my feet were angry and not eager to pack up on Day 3 (Wednesday) and hike a rugged trail for 18.5 more km to Valle del Tertero. There we found a quiet wide valley, the forecasted rain held off and we looked forward to a rest-day for Day 4 (Thursday).
Pico Duarte Trip - 10Pico Duarte Trip - 11
Day 5 (Friday) and our weary, battered feet and our rented bus brought us back to Jarabacoa with a renewed sense of it’s value and importance.

And as I reflect now on the experience of these five days, I wonder at the impulse we have to climb mountains. What is it that motivates us to persecute ourselves in this way? What makes a man give up his comfort and buffet himself for nothing more than the glory of enduring the struggle, the joy of hard-forged relationships, breathtaking scenes and pulsating rainbows? Can encouraging and helpful staff and students carrying each others’ loads (literally) somehow make it worth it? Can the laughter of a tight-knit group leaping from rocks in the sun into a cold river balance it out? If not, perhaps, a crystal clear view of the Milky Way galaxy stretched from horizon to horizon across the center of a serenely beautiful valley, interrupted only by streaking meteors, answered by choruses of gleeful screams and shouts of praise?
Pico Duarte Trip - 14Pico Duarte Trip - 17Would it be considered worth it all if some of those young students overcame fears with courage? What if they showed unexpected patience, acceptance and kindness to one another? What if some responded to the God who made all this wonder by the words of His mouth and trusted his Son? Isn’t life itself a series of challenging difficulties? Who better to guide us up this mountain and take us to the summit?

Pico Duarte Trip - 12

What a grand time we had!

A little life from our perspective.

img_1021

In the middle of the Caribbean, on top of a mountain, we gazed at the place God had sent us. We had climbed to about 3,800 ft. Yet we could faintly hear the sounds of the moto traffic on the narrow streets in the distance. Felt like you were closer to God up there. But God’s view of Jarabacoa is not aerial. It is not distant. His view of the places is defined in the faces. He loved the World enough to redeem the people living there. Like some of our neighbors who live in an unfinished building visible from our home—with no light, or water, or doors and windows. People who would love to have a job in the local supermercado where they would work for 6-7 days a week for perhaps the equivalent of $25. What can one man do?

They call this home

They call this home

It reminds me of the man who walked down the beach where hundreds of starfish were washed up and baking in the sun. He stooped from time to time and flung a fortunate one back out to sea. A man approached him and asked why he engaged in such futility. He remarked that with so many there dying in the sun, what did it matter? As the man threw one more back out to sea he turned and replied, “It mattered to that one.” Pray for us to know how we can make a difference here to the particular ones God leads us to. Not everybody is this destitute, but all of us desperately need God!

We have come to this place in the Name of the One Who has redeemed us and it is you who have made it possible! Thank you for your faithfulness and love. We pray for you and we depend on you to keep holding the rope.

If you haven’t found us on Facebook, you may click (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1725699647708577/)  to take you to our group “Serving in the Dominican Republic”. In future emails we’ll suggest specific concerns to pray about, and tell you things we’re praising God for!

Copyright © 2016, Timothy Pack, All rights reserved.

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Tim and Joyce Pack
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Fort Pierce, FL 34946

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While stopped at an intersection the other day I happened to notice a young woman on the sidewalk, attractive and smartly dressed. I spied her there, walking briskly, as if on a mission, toward the corner of the block.

Almost at once, from my vantage point she passed another young woman heading in the opposite direction who got my attention. The second woman appeared to have been victimized by polio. Her gait was twisted and awkward, her legs of differing lengths, her slender arms thrust down into the braces of metallic crutches as she painstakingly ambled along. Yet, upon her face was a determined and bright smile. In a moment, before I turned the corner I noticed something else. She had in one hand a small plastic bag. With the other hand and with a slow, deliberate effort she was bending over and reaching toward the sidewalk. There she picked up a piece of carelessly discarded wrapper and placed it in her bag.

Her objective was clear. She was cleaning up the litter in that public place. What had taken someone else only a thoughtless moment to deposit, was taking her a good deal more effort to retrieve.

Smiling, I reflected then on the two young ladies I had just observed. The first was pleasant to look upon. The second—more so. For in her example beamed a lovely character and an inspiration. The first may have brightened that corner by her presence. But the second brightened that corner because she left it better than it was. Yes, it was a  little thing, but it seems to me that the cumulative effect of a lot of us doing a little adds up to something pretty great.

I must admit that I’ve visited their meetings.

I have been a some-time practitioner of the habits of some pretty dubious clubs.

I lodged no objection at the office, when someone not present was being criticized and slandered.

I chose rather to make my own contribution to the record. There was something somehow irresistible about feeling “better” than the one we accused. I felt a little guilty at the time, but not enough to be courageous. Not enough to stop it and walk away. Certainly not enough to observe that anything was amiss here.

The food at the party was incredible and delicious! There was so much to choose from so I chose not to. Some of just about everything. Had to loosen my belt a bit and felt gorged for the next 4 hours. It was all part of the party.

Friday and Saturday night’s wouldn’t  qualify as “The Weekend” unless we found some way of getting “ripped.” More than likely I’ve spent enough money on intoxicants to buy a new car. Wrecked one or two. Did a stint in the clink for DUI. I’m no saint.

I’ve gotten myself into some pretty questionable settings. There were those times, if it suited me, that my devious mind would spin a yarn—a fabrication—to hide the truth, to keep my dignity intact.

So yes, perhaps like many of you, I have been counted among the gossips, gluttons, fornicators, drunks and liars that the Bible says will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Not just as one who consorts, but as one of them. I have a proclivity that I’ve always possessed to do what I know is not right. I am, in short, a recovering sinner.

I speak now to Bible-believing persons who call themselves “Christians.” If that doesn’t describe you, then you’re not likely to see the point of any of this.

A dear friend of mine once told me of an esteemed mentor from his youth. He was described as an able teacher of the Bible. A giant of a man. In this case that description was apparently literal. This wonderful, loving, godly, man was morbidly obese. My friend related how, when he sat down to eat in the cafeteria, he consumed enough for a family of four. I had the temerity to suggest that this kind of thing was overlooked or “winked at” in Church circles when it is clearly gluttony. I questioned whether this was right when we make such loud remonstrations against other kinds of sins (such as sexual immorality). My friend simply smiled and quipped: “Now you’ve moved from preachin’ and have taken to meddlin.” There it is. Do we need to add hypocrisy to our list of sins?

Suppose I were to weary of this sin-sick world and my own urges to act out the moral deficiencies within? Suppose I have grown tired of the fight and the feelings of guilt?

Why, I might just selectively choose to close my eyes to the sins it would be inconvenient to acknowledge. I might even declare that, though I know otherwise, this thing or that is no sin at all.

What if I should all at once declare to all that I have grown tired of the struggle against sexual sin. Suppose, I have chosen now to give myself entirely to it and “explore the space”?  Suppose I want you to congratulate me on this achievement and celebrate my liberation”? I can tell you that my wife would not thank me.

It appears to me that there are those selective sins, even within the church, we have effectively declared to be, at worst, “idiosyncrasies” or personal foibles—certainly nothing to get excited about! After all, we’re loving. We’re tolerant. We’re inclusive. And we’re ALL sinners. So,…

But this is an unholy capitulation. It is NOT, in fact, love. It is NOT truth. We need so much to repent of these things and be holy as our Lord commanded us and equipped us to be. We ALL need to repent. I feel like the prophet Isaiah may have felt when he said of himself. “Woe to me, I’m gonna die. I am a man full of uncleanness and I live among a people like me.” (my paraphrase)

If we will not continue this joint effort to lay aside sin, being patient with one another in the process, then how can we expect a people who don’t even CLAIM to believe the Bible to do the same? For indeed, this is happening in our culture and in our day. What has for centuries been understood to be sin, is now the societally approved “new normal” of our age. Whether within the church or without, this throwing off of the will of God and approval and establishment of sin cannot end well for any of us who persist in it.

I think it’s interesting to see how God Himself provided that the poor be cared for.
If you go, for instance, to the OT book of Ruth, you find a wealthy man there named Boaz who had a lot of land, crops, and employees. The Law of God provided that when a field was harvested they were not to pick it clean. They were to leave some good sheaves of grain and the corners of the fields for the poor. They were not required to reap it for them, nor deliver it to them, nor were they required to give them a bigger percentage than that. The poor knew that God had provided that they had the right to glean the leftovers at the end of the day. They had to “wait their turn” and go do it themselves though. In the NT we hear the apostle Paul directing the young church, that if there were any among them who would not work they would not eat.

feed the pig

feed the pig

The Law also extracted a 10% tax rate–no more, no less. Some of that was earmarked for the poor. That didn’t mean, however, that that was all God hoped His people would do and give. He wants us to have big hearts for Him, expressed to others. That has always remained “free will” in God’s directives–not to be coerced at the end of a weapon wielded by any government or individual. Not to be demanded by some tyrannical arm of government, (even if those behind it were a majority of voters who “meant well.”) Boaz freely favored the young woman Ruth. It was his prerogative as the one who was able to freely give.

2 Corinthians 9:7“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The “good” man Boaz was wealthy. Abraham and Solomon were fabulously wealthy. So was Joseph and David and many other “righteous men”. Yet there were still poor among them. They were free to dispose of their wealth as they saw fit to whomever they saw fit. Only God was and is their judge.

Jesus had much to say to us about our personal, individual, responsibility before Him to “help the poor!” So people of all persuasions talk about this wholesome enterprise. We seem to disagree about how best to do it—what best helps people? None of us, however,  are absolved PERSONALLY by depending on somebody else to do it.

And government is almost always a poor steward of what they extract from us. Fact is, our Founders knew this. If you give government an inch, it will take a mile. It has to be carefully restrained. We act as though only corporations are corrupt, and corruptible, and in need of restraint—and seem to think that government is and always will be benign–no matter how much power and personal responsibility we abrogate and relinquish to it.

Our brilliant Constitution and consequent system of government has permitted us the privilege of seeking to secure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Equality was not on that list. Karl Marx was not correct. And though God loves all people regardless of anything, He too did not call for absolute equality and never provided for it. In fact, in the parables of Jesus some servants were given 10 times what other servants were given (based on discharge of their responsibilities)! Then, based on how they dealt what what was entrusted to them, the Master sometimes came back and even took the little bit they had and gave it to the one who had the most! (e.g. Matt. 25:28) He shelled out His gifts and favors as He saw fit.

In the early church there was much love and care being expressed for those in need. We’re told that the wealthier would, from time to time, sell some of their property and give it for distribution to the poor.
Ananias and his wife Sapphira had sold a piece of their property. They brought some of the money from the sale of the property but lied about it and said it was ALL the money. God was not happy with them (to say the least) because of their lie. But it’s interesting to see what Peter says to them before they are dealt with by God:

Acts 5:4a “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?”

It was not demanded. It was not coerced. The rest of the believers were not at liberty to require it be given.

I would LOVE to see some leader (from any party) actually propose a viable plan whereby people could get self-respect and retain dignity and work to earn all assistance given. It would be good for them, and good for all of us.

Yes, we are very definitely responsible to help the poor. Let each one see to it. Sometimes people just can’t help themselves. Let us deal responsibly with what we have –be it great or small. There’s so much of the loving heart of God expressed in this. God wants us to give even for our own sakes—so that money and greed will not own us! He told a certain rich young ruler to sell EVERYTHING and give it to the poor. Though the young man went away sad, I sometimes wonder if he thought better of it and did exactly what Jesus said,  some time later? He was, however, free to make that decision. Palestine in the first century was “dirt poor.” There was no social welfare system. If God’s people didn’t help the poor, who would? Perhaps we have government taking over the role that the Church did not stay faithful to discharge? Perhaps too, we have created “a monster” heretofore unknown in human history, whereby such a significant percentage of the able-bodied population lives on the means provided by others, and often are able to have a smart phone, cable TV, and a late-model automobile.

Yet it’s interesting to note in the end, that not even God will help someone who demands it or who will not give an effort to help themselves.

See what Dave Ramsay has said that touches on this issue and the angst and anger being expressed by OWS

dropOnce upon a time there were some people who grew weary of living under the ideals of other people. They decided to set up a new social order governed by different ideas. Since “ideas have consequences”, they thought it best to found this new community on written principles that they called a “Constitution.”

We the People…

We the People…

Their Constitution was premised on the belief that not all beliefs are equal. Some things are true and some things are false. Some ideas produce good results while others do not. The beliefs we arrive at and agree upon are necessarily exclusive of the ones we rejected. All people do this whether they’re writing a constitution or not. People make laws that reflect their own ideals—not someone else’s. From the “He-Man-Woman-Haters” club of Spanky and Our Gang to the Kiwanis, we make our own policies. Why would anybody do otherwise?

In our country, under our Constitution, we have what we call a Republic.  In such a marvelous system we may—rather, we should—participate in making policy. We cast votes and elect leaders whom we expect will govern as a reflection of our corporate will. The idea is, that if they do not, we the people will replace them with someone who will. So, naturally, we participate, we make our will known, we cast our votes according to our consciences to the end of enjoying a social order we have agreed upon. It’s true that such a system (great as it is) can produce something that I believe Emile Durkheim called “the tyranny of the majority.” In other words, 51% may make policy for themselves and the 49% who disagreed.

Because of this, I suppose, somewhere along the line there has arisen a peculiar idea that we should not so construct our social order. Strangely, we are seeing a time where it is expected that men and women abrogate this great privilege of participating in creating and sustaining their “social contract”. We live in a time where 98% may be tyrannized by the 2%. Though, for instance, a huge majority may wish to protect a citizen’s right to something, we want now to say that a small minority may prevent them from doing so. If an overwhelming majority believe that, for instance, the social order and its institutions be defined a certain way, we are now expected to define our morals and ethics according to a smaller minority view. That minority is free to believe what they want to believe and convey their ideas publicly, but the majority is not thereby compelled to let their will be overruled. Nevertheless, it is expected, in the name of love and tolerance, that the many step aside and let the few define and redefine our social contract however they please. This is not the freedom and responsibility our fathers toiled and died to ensure.

If we come to a point in our history where a majority want to redefine freedom of religion as “freedom from religion”; if the time comes when we the people want a marriage to be defined as three men, a cat, and a coffee table—well then that is what will happen. If we the people decide to re-write the Constitution and prohibit the owning of guns, well then, that is what we the people will do. If we agree that it would be a great world if everyone could walk around in the bus station buck naked and shout “Fire!” in a crowded  theatre, then that will be the rule of the land.  But whatever we do, it will have been defined by a substantial agreement among citizens.

While I am free and while I am an American I will vote my conscience that has been shaped and molded by a Biblical worldview. This is non other than what our fathers unapologetically did in 1776. Over 90% of them were Bible believing Christians. It has been shown that over 90% of the content of our founding documents and system of jurisprudence have been informed either directly or indirectly from the Bible. They did not consult a Koran. As one stands in the majestic Lincoln Memorial and looks up, there inscribed in granite are the words of scripture flowing from the heart and mind of a man who knew them and depended upon them. Will the day arrive that we see fit to have them removed?

I don’t want to have to sadly explain to my great-grandchildren some day that we used to be free to pray—even at school, that it used to be okay to meet and worship God, that we once defined marriage as between a man and a woman, that I used to be free to tell others about the Savior of the world without threat, that people used to be able to protect themselves and speak their mind, and participate in government. But an even greater dread I have–to be compelled to explain to them that the only reason we don’t still possess these things is that I and millions like me withdrew from the public sphere and simply let others make a new country, founded on their differing ideals and principles, wielding the power of a way-of-life abhorrent to our fathers.

 

Hmmmm

Hmmmm

dropHaving lived in Southern California I gained some experience with earth-moving events. Temblors. Earthquakes.

I find it curious what seismic scientists decided to call those places on the earth’s crust that aren’t too well put together. These are the meeting places for tectonic plates to grind on one another. They are fractures. They are cracks on the surface of a beautiful sphere. They called them faults. For all it’s many wonders, the earth is cracked. She has faults. She has episodes from time to time. She buckles, and heaves, and convulses in a very public way and her issue is not only her own. The ripples affect everyone in her sphere of influence. The experience and it’s results are alarming,…sometimes catastrophic.

This flawed earth upon which we live is populated with beings much like her. We are beautiful and wondrous. We are uniquely possessed of powers and intricate function. But we also have our faults. We too are cracked in one way or another. We too, as we live together here, are often—both within and without—apt to run up against the obstacles of others like us. The longer I have lived the more convinced I have become that no one of us is in any kind of position to get self-righteous. We are dealing with conditions that are common to all of us. For if we do not possess that particular fault, we most certainly have our own.

I submit then that we ready ourselves to give up a lot of grace. To throw around a lot of mercy. To extend patience till it hurts, expend for others like irresponsible spendthrifts, and serve the most cracked among us as those deserving the same respect and dignity we’d like to receive. To love without finding fault as we have been so loved by the one who made us. We keep needing help to remember to keep doing this. And perhaps we need the most grace and patience of all for the ones who seem totally disinterested and uncooperative in joining us in this mutually beneficial endeavor. With the gaining of a little clarity and perspective I might discover, to my dismay, that it was me who had been the uncooperative one.

We don’t celebrate the faults. We’re not happy about them. We’d like to have them fixed. But if most of us looked critically at our own issues first, we might likely take more humility to the evaluation of the issues of others. As Donald Miller has pointed out, there is very little to be gained wondering what’s wrong with those other people, until first we consider what’s wrong with that person in the mirror.

 

 

dropBack in the stone age when I was going to school we used to have these little contests at school known as Spelling Bees. Periodically we would even be tested (gasp!) to see if we could spell stuff. My sophomore English teacher (who in a previous career may have been a member of the Gestapo) would mark my answer wrong if I misspelled what I wrote. Heck, she’d even mark it incorrect if you failed to dot your “i” or cross your “t.”

Fortunately for all of us, we now live in the (Post)modern era and we no longer have need of such archaic and useless pastimes. Now we have the little miracle called “spell-checker” which completely eliminates the need to spell anything.  Nwo sceince hes prevod thit yew den’t niid too splle thigs corictly two bea undnestode. And now, of course, we know that it would be insensitive and callous to actually expect anybody to spell actual words.

Welcome to the age of sensitivity, understanding and enlightenment!

In the spirit of the celebration I submit a photo tribute to our collective achievement.…

I give you,… “Rodecide Retale”  Please notice what is being “markited”. “You’re selling WHAT?!”

Rodecide Retale

Rodecide Retale

 

Caricature of a some young friends of ours who recently married.

Caricature of a some young friends of ours who recently married.

dropIlike to try to capture the essence of a subject in a humorous way, using exaggeration of certain prominent features. It’s what we call a “caricature.” We all know it doesn’t really look like the subject, but you can tell who it is nonetheless—and in the recognition perhaps enjoy a smile.

I’ve observed too, that we all do this sort of thing, if not with pictures, with words. We “characterize” a subject or person in a particular way in a particular light. People know what we’re referring to because there’s a lot of “truth” and “likeness” to our characterizations. However, they remain only a caricature—highlighting certain features, but not really a true likeness. We do this in debate and argument all the time. Our “caricature” of the subject under discussion often tells our listener more about us than it does about our subject. In debate we call this fallacy a “straw man.” A verbal effigy of our target set up before our counterpart and decimated with our superior wit and intelligence. Of course we have really only destroyed our own creation.

I’ve found that subjects and ideas and philosophies and people are all far more complex than the little caricatures we make of them. I’m not disparaging having ideals and convictions—I’ve got a bunch of those myself. I am, however, suggesting that we recognize this tendency we all have, and back off from some of the divisive intensity we start generating in all our zeal to be “right.” The other guy thinks he’s right too. For all we know, neither of us are. Perhaps we both have a cherished caricatured picture of what we oppose that really isn’t all that accurate. We’ll need real dialogue and willingness to redraw the thing if we’re to get to the truth.

Oh, now I’ve done it! I’ve suggested there is in fact something called “truth.” People define that term in so many ways. More caricatures I suppose. In all our groping for the light—to find what’s right, I like to keep in mind what Jesus said to Pilate:

“For this reason I came into the world—to testify to the truth.”

Surely One Who called Himself “God with Us” would not draw us a caricature.

dropThe lyrics from Gary Jules’ rendition of Mad World are eerily haunting. The second verse sadly intones the plight of “worn out faces” of people “going nowhere”—of “children waiting for [their birthdays]—the day they feel good…”. This lamentation resonates with so many. Who hasn’t often declared, “I can’t wait till…”, or “just a couple more days, then…”? We can’t wait to be 16 and get our driver’s licenses. 10 more minutes till break. 47 days till Christmas. We long for the workday to be over. We eagerly anticipate the “special” event. We would forfeit this particular measure of our lives to “fast forward” to something better. Why? Because the present tends to be tedious. Even in an unprecedented age of electronic, digital entertainment and a proliferation of countless pastimes and amusements, “boredom” seems to be a disease that is epidemic—especially among the young.


Thoreau said that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” If this be true, what is it that makes us so desperate? Is life so unappealing and meaningless that we feel compelled to hasten through it to moments of pleasure that can make us feel, and give our lives some measure of significance?

It has been said that people live their lives as either a tourist, or a traveler. It appears to me that most are tourists. A tourist is not interested in the space and time between where they are and their destination. Vacation hasn’t begun till they’re there. The trip there is only a necessary evil. The potential destinations along the way hold no interest.

The traveler, on the other hand, also looks forward to the “main event” destination—but they are also interested in the process of getting there. These might steer clear of the airport non-stop in favor of a many-stop trek over an old state road, populated with diners, old town squares, gravel roads, and regular people. These are more likely to notice things and people that others miss because the rest are in a hurry to “get there.”

The same observations may be made about life in general. We seek for something yet to come. To live in the moment is insufferable. Because the quality, reward, stimulation, and meaning of our days is so wanting, we yearn for the “specialness” of vacations, holidays, events, and the like. Nothing makes product fly off the shelves better than the accompanying promise: “New and Improved!” We want that. We like that—and we’re willing to pay for it. Discontent in the present and longing for better days sells lottery tickets and attracts people to countless religions and “self-help” gimmicks.

I am learning how to be a traveler. I don’t want to “wish my life away.” “Now” is where I want to be. If, as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”, we’re really not engaged with our lives. This “disagreeable” thing may contain a priceless value and we won’t see it because we were anxiously looking past it to a future we really can’t know and over which we have little to no control.

It isn’t only in the “sweet-bye-and-bye-apple-pie-in-the-sky” that a person may experience the longed-for joys. Jesus Christ told us that “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” —Luke 17:21b

What is necessary is the change, not of circumstance, but of us. To have the eyes to see and the ears to hear what has been near all along.

Some years ago I created this art as an expression of this lesson applied.

A Tangled Wood Something beautiful to me, that I almost missed!

A Tangled Wood
Something beautiful to me, that I almost missed!

Tangled

I walked along a shrouded path
remote from all my pain.
‘Neath canopies of verdant green
washed clean by recent rains.

I almost missed a tangled mass
of wildly groping wood.
Whose aimless chaos well bespoke
confusion where I stood.

Yet, looking closer through the veil,
a beauty there I see.
The tangled wood emerged in time
a work of art to me!

—T.A.Pack