I slid into a pew, removed my coat and tried to breathe normally. I closed my eyes, soaking in the quiet of the stone walls and the lingering aroma of spent incense. In some ways, I didn’t want to be there at all because, when it came right down to it, I was angry. I’m always angry when I try to figure out what happened to my father’s life.
The life of a person with a life-threatening or life-altering disease can be depressing and it can be terrifying. On good days, when our heads and hearts are in their right places, it can be also be majestic. Our lives can be frightfully ugly and they can be gloriously beautiful. But even when we seem to be in the midst of our lowest and most distressful times, we can choose to focus on the good and on God and his movement in our lives.
Over the course of my treatment, my chemotherapy drugs have caused what is known as “peripheral neuropathy.” In short, my hands and feet are numb. My size-ten feet tingle when I walk, which sounds a little like a line from a Broadway musical, but it’s far less entertaining.
Somehow, it’s January 1 once again. We have made yet another trip around the sun. I’m not one for making public declarations of my resolutions (although I do need to step up my walking and watch my portions once again…) but today I return to a question that might lead to a good resolution for all of us to consider on this first day of a New Year: How do we begin each day?
In the “music” of this all-to-hard-to-find silence, I began to feel myself drawn in the direction of the master composer and musician, the One who brings all to life, throws beauty over the world like a prayer shawl, and invites us all to “waste time with him” every once in a while.
I am happy to announce that my band — the Mo Bottom Project — has released our first CD, “Well Traveled Road,” a collection of 11 original songs that span some of our favorite musical genres from Americana/folk to bluesy old-time rock ‘n’ roll and are lyrically inspired by the history, landscape and stories of the Missouri River Valley near where we live and grew up.
Back in May, I posted an essay and a song called “Extraordinary Lives.” Here’s a little slideshow/video for you…relax and enjoy. Be grateful for the day. Extraordinary Lives, by Phil Cooper and Steve Givens. Copyright 2016, Potter’s Mark Music.
“Here I am,” is perhaps the most authentic response we can make to God. “Here I am” is awareness of the present and of the fact that I am in the presence of something great and beyond myself. “Here I am” is the beginning of my day, the busy-ness in the midst of my day, and the end of the day when my head hits the pillow and I briefly try to recall when I might have experienced God.
I stand at the edge of the world
Sea and sand swirling ‘round my feet
Anchored by the weight of the pulling and swelling
Facing outward, toward a monochrome horizon
Ocean and sky barely distinguishable one from the other
A landscape that could have been sketched by a No. 2 pencil.
Today, even as I think of ways I can improve my health in the coming year, I recall the words of St. Francis of Assisi who said, “I am who I am in the eyes of God—nothing more and nothing less.”