Category Personal Reflections

On the “Crowded Kindnesses of God”

This is the nut of it, yes? For those of us in the developed world living beyond all previously imagined luxury and comfort (even if we are far below the vaunted “1%”), we pause perhaps out of daily practice and most assuredly on this day that we celebrate in common tomorrow, trying to make room for the “crowded kindnesses of God.” I came across that line yesterday, noodling around for a quote for this blog’s Facebook page pre-Thanksgiving. Its unique expression of abundant blessings struck me as worthy of further reflection.

The quote is from Baptist minister Alexander Maclaren (1825-1905), reputed to be a powerful preacher of his time and denominational leader in his native United Kingdom. The full entry reads:

“Do not let the empty cup be your first teacher of the blessings you had when it was full. Do not let a hard place here and there in the bed destroy your rest...

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The Fires and Kindness This Time

We live on the edge of catastrophe. This is always the case, always has been. Born vulnerable and utterly helpless, we become, in the best of circumstances, less vulnerable only by degrees if we are fortunate enough to avoid early death.

Accident, illness and natural disaster perch on our shoulder, the uninvited intruder who never leaves but is mostly ignored through all our days.

This ignorance, this denial, is fundamental and necessary to our growth and flourishing as we move through life. Cowering in fear or wearing a permanent furrow on our brow is of no use whatsoever to our survival or our flourishing as conscious creatures with nearly limitless capacity for joy and fraternity.

We get up every morning expecting to see the night, with the next morning mostly the same.

Most of the time for a long time, we are lucky to be right. And sometimes, our luck runs out.

Worry, concern, even perfectly justified ...

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Fire, Rage and Hope 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…
                                                —Rudyard Kipling 

We live in a time when meaningful commentary about the affairs of the day faces the challenge of being overrun by ever more head-shaking events—and by the 24-hour news cycle that barely has time to chronicle those events before a new one crashes in commanding our attention.

It’s like one of those diabolical amusement park rides that no sooner dumps you out from a screeching, white knuckle series of turns than it drops you and your stomach down a precipitous descent far speedier than gravity would seem to allow.

And then the speed and lurch build up much too quickly again and you find yourself praying for the end of the r...

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Song of My Stuff

We come into the world naked and possessionless, then are scooped up within moments to be swaddled in warm comforting materials, diaper in place, our toes wrapped in plastic name tags, a little beanie on our vulnerable heads—all of these our first possessions, serving as the forerunners of hundreds of thousands more if we are fortunate enough to eventually join the ranks of the aged.

Human beings: Homo-accumulitis.

In my youth, I owned an MG Midget, a sporty wisp hardly bigger than the plastic cars parents push their toddlers in as they circle the block in that charming, devoted way they do.

I jammed most everything I owned into that Midget in the several moves I made while it was in my possession during my four-year early career as a special education teacher.

Two weeks ago, some 40 years later, I employed one of those giant pods (biggest size available at 8’ X 8’ X 16’) to move my life from the wes...

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“And Then It Was Over”: A Song of Transience, Clinging and Flux

“Everything flows and nothing stays,” said Heraclitus some 2,500 years ago, with those words and many thousands more that followed putting his stamp on the cosmic ledger as the “Philosopher of Flux.” He added a pleasing image by proclaiming we can never step into the same river twice, the waters displaced by that step already having worked their way downstream, so good luck finding those drops now.

Rivers may not always run deep, but Heraclitus most certainly did.

Bill noting the trajectory of their blooms’ fleeting life cycle by deadpanning: ‘And then it was over.’

“There really is no tomorrow, because when tomorrow comes, it’s today!” That was Mrs. Anderson, my kindly third grade teacher who seemed to my 8-year-old eyes to have been born in the age of Heraclitus, maybe even his wife, waxing philosophic with a mischievous smile on her face at the front of the class.

It sounded slightly...

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