Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. -- Proverbs 4: 23 (NIV)
I am writing this exactly 48 hours before I’m scheduled to have open heart bypass surgery.
The details don’t matter so much, and there are certainly a lot of factors which have contributed to my being in this place and time. However, the truth is this: I haven’t taken care of my heart the way I should have.
This bypass procedure is, if all goes well, a second chance to do things differently, to do better, to be better.
Facing a major event such as this typically prompts thoughts of what if, if only, and puts one’s perspective into laser focus on to what matters most. So it is for me.
As I look back over the span of my life so far -- 54 years of it, in fact -- I am astounded at how many times in my life I would like to be able to do things differently than I did. All of us have those moments, those regrets. No one is immune.
But if I go further back, open the curtain to the past beyond those harsh moments of what-might-have-been, even back before the time I was born, further back into the mists of time than I can imagine, I leap suddenly into the realm of the eternal NOW, where there is nothing but this: Love is there.
Love is all there is. Nothing else.
And in that moment when a little slice of eternity was molded and formed (and in many traditions, this molding and forming was enacted with words . . . spoken words), and the universe we know was brought into being with a huge bang, laced into the fabric of that forming, holding it all together, was a whisper that reached a point of expression in a specific time and place:
“I love you, you matter, you have a purpose.”
And in those words, I was created.
In spite of the flaws, in spite of the failures, the missed opportunities, in spite of the pain, nothing matters but that truth: “I love you, you matter, you have a purpose.”
So, as I look back across the small arc of years that is my life so far, I don’t look back with regret or guilt or pain. I look back with gratitude that in spite of all those things, I am loved.
And, in that awareness, I look forward with hope and faith that each new day, each moment, every moment, brings with it a gift: a chance to do better, make better choices, to focus on what matters most.
To love and be loved.
Love and peace to all . . . love and peace to you from Kodak, Tennessee.
Hello. This is truly an entry of fragments, which is what I envisioned when that name came to my mind as the title of the new blog I was thinking about writing as part of the redesign of my website.
What the hell is “Fuzzy Wuzzy”?
Last Saturday night, there were several people I used to work with who had informally planned to get together at Longhorn to hang out and catch up with each other. Well, one by one, people canceled, forgot, had other things going on, or whatever one might imagine, until I was the only one who actually showed up.
I will quote from the journal entry where I wrote about what happened next:
The reunion was a bust.
I didn’t feel like waiting to be seated at Longhorn (and I’d not brought my tablet, so I couldn’t really read easily except on my phone, which I wasn’t in the mood to do), so I came back home, grabbed my tablet, and went in search of a place to eat that wasn’t fast food but wasn’t going to be super crowded.
I settled on going to a little restaurant I hadn’t been to in a long time that’s close by here called Park Place Restaurant, which always has good food, isn’t usually crowded (and it wasn’t last night either), and usually caters to people even older than I am. What I call the nursing home crowd. It was like some places Charlotte and I liked to go in Florida when we were married.
I sat in the back where it was not crowded and it was quiet so I could read and watch the people, which I enjoy doing.
A little elderly couple who reminded me of Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy from the movie Cocoon . . . were sitting at the table next to mine. At one point, when their food came, the man bowed his head and started praying, giving thanks for their meal, in a pretty loud voice. It was pretty standard as far as prayers go, and it was so sincere sounding, I couldn’t be annoyed at him as I am when it feels like someone’s doing it to show off their piety in front of others. Anyway, at one point in his simple prayer of thanks, he took an unexpected detour that made the entire trip there worth it: he said, “. . . and Lord, thank you for helping Fuzzy Wuzzy, thank you for this food . . .” and it continued down a more expected path from there.
They were both so earnest and sincere, I couldn’t laugh, even though that was my first inclination; I did smile, though. I wondered who in the hell “Fuzzy Wuzzy” could be, and decided it had to be a pet -- most likely a dog or a cat.
That little prayer, and its unexpected detour, took me from being an observer into some kind of sacred space, and I silently offered up thanks for my own food that was coming soon -- and I thanked God for helping Fuzzy Wuzzy.
It’s something that I might write about in a blog entry later, but I’m not sure. Anyway, it was worth having the Holland reunion cancelled to be there for that moment.
Okay, I’m back. It doesn’t really matter who or what “Fuzzy Wuzzy” is -- it was a moment that opened a portal for me in my own awareness of what really matters (gratitude, relationships), and it ushered me into a moment of eternity that I might have missed had my original plans transpired.
Also behind that little phrase about “Fuzzy Wuzzy” (that still makes me smile when I write that) is the assurance that man and woman had that they were so loved, accepted, that they mattered so much to their God that he cared about the most mundane detail of their lives -- including whoever or whatever “Fuzzy Wuzzy” is.
So, I hope that the point of “Fuzzy Wuzzy” is a reminder for both you and me: that we are loved, we matter, we have a purpose.
Sharing a moment from Myrtle Hill.
Last Saturday, I was in my hometown of Rome, Georgia, as I am many Saturdays, and had a little time to visit one of my favorite quiet places in the world (along with the Old Mill at Berry College), Myrtle Hill Cemetery. There had been patchy fog all morning, and it was just starting to clear off.
I got to Myrtle Hill just in time to see the remnants slowly swirling around the top of the hill, so I took some pictures. I edited one picture so that it was black-and-white, and I enjoyed it enough to share it on Facebook, and am including it here in case you didn’t see it but might enjoy it.
That’s it for now from here.
Love and peace to all . . . love and peace to you.
An Occasional Series About Books I'm Reading
Bookends is going to be an occasional series on Fragments Blog about whatever I happen to be reading at that moment that I want to write about. It’s closely related to “The Bookends Library”, which is down The Rabbit Hole part of this website. Check it to learn more.
One of my favorite things about being a truck driver is the time it affords for listening to audiobooks, music, and (these days) podcasts.
Earlier this week, I was able to listen to several episodes of some of my favorite podcasts, and it struck me that almost every one of them was centered on a book in some way. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.
And then the idea for The Bookends Library as one of the things down The Rabbit Hole part of this website came to me. And here we are. (Or, maybe, here I am.)
So, in no particular order, here is some of what I’m reading:
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I first read The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings in 7th grade, and I have read it several times since then. It’s probably one reason most of my favorite books to read again and again are fantasy series or fantasy novels.
The reason I’m reading it right now is because one of my favorite podcasts, The Prancing Pony Podcast, is devoted to reading through and discussing the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and at the moment, they are on a six-year journey through The Lord of the Rings. It amounts to about a chapter every two or three weeks, so it’s easy to keep up with.
If you’ve never read The Lord of the Rings (and seeing the movies does not count), but have thought about it, reading along with the guys on Prancing Pony is a great way to do it.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. From the time I read the first book of this 14-book series, it was 20 years before it was finished, and I’ve read parts of it dozens of times over the years. It is probably my favorite book series of all -- ever. Currently, I’m slowly reading through it again, and am in the beginning chapters of book 9.
This series is also the subject of one the podcasts I enjoy listening to: Wheel of Time Spoilers, in which the hosts basically cover a chapter of the series every episode and talk about it. It’s a great way to re-read the series with more depth of insight and enjoyment.
If you like fantasy at all, and haven’t yet read Wheel of Time, what are you waiting for?
Exhalation by Ted Chiang. I just started this collection of short stories this week after it was discussed for two episodes on another podcast I listen to, Very Bad Wizards. So far, I’m enjoying it as much as anything I’ve read in a long time. I might have more to say after I’m done with it.
Other Random Things I’m Reading Not in Conjunction With A Podcast -- and I should say that I don’t read in all of these every day, but they are some of the different streams I’m enjoying swimming or fishing in just now.
Until next time, be well. And remember to gather the fragments -- there’s sometimes good stuff in them.
Love and peace to all . . . love and peace to you . . .
Hey, Nanny . . . and Happy Birthday!
You would be 92 today. It’s hard to believe you’ve been gone almost 7 years.
I’m doing alright, I reckon, and I know you’re doing okay.
I’ve been thinking about you this morning, and just wanted to thank you for the love and laughter and memories that I cherish more and more the older I get.
Sometimes, I drive by that old house on General Avenue, and for a moment, I just want to walk through that front door, hear laughter coming from the kitchen, and walk in on you, Boe, Aunt Mary, Aunt Phoebe, and whoever happened to be there that day sitting around the table playing Aggravation.
At those moments, for a few seconds, my heart aches for you.
But later, I realize that each memory I have, the part of me that realizes I’m loved without condition or measure, that I matter, that I have a purpose, are gifts that I have in large measure because of you.
And I hear you whisper in my heart, “I love you, boy!”
And, no matter what else is going on in the world, or in me, I realize everything’s gonna be okay.
Because you’re here.
I love you, Nanny! Tell everybody hello for me.