CROSSING THE BAR
Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me.
Let there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea.
This expression of Tennyson's contentment with his life (he is asking metaphorically that no one mourn for him when he dies) came back to me as I lay in bed with my wife's warm weight pressing gently against my back and one of the dogs snoring quietly on the floor next to us. The poet, all his accomplishments not withstanding, cannot have been more content than I am. From there I spun on to a line from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, "You will comprehend the word serenity and you will know peace." That's from a section called "The Promises," and it is a promise that I have certainly received.
"Now is the winter of our discontent turned glorious summer," floated by next, and I laid there for a few minutes thinking about how we do in fact make our lives "winter," not by being deprived, but by being dissatisfied. Like most of Shakespeare's protagonists, Richard III was brought down by his ambition and greed. Had he actually been content he would have escaped his fate. Someone put it much more plainly with, "Happiness isn't found in having what you want, it"s found in not wanting what you don't have." I guess that just brings us back to my "The Richest Man I Ever Knew" story.
Next, for some reason I started thinking about an anecdote I sometimes use when someone is railing about what kind of God allows bad things to happen. This isn't a story that is apropos of anything happening in my life, it is just where my mind went this morning.
Picture in your mind two college professors strolling across the campus of a great university like Harvard or Cambridge. They are discussing the philosophies of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, Bertrand Russell and Teilhard de Chardin. As they are walking, one of the professors happens to glance down and sees that his foot is about to come down on an ant. Without thinking about it or interrupting what he is saying to his companion, he twitches his foot to the side just enough to spare the ant's life. That ant, going on about his business, completely uncomprehending of his narrow escape, knows as much about the philosophies the two professors were discussing as I know about the mind and plan of God. To tell myself that I know more is simply hubris.Grandma B says this story is mostly about me trying to show off how smart I am by naming a couple of philosophers. I expect she is not completely wrong. I do know the names, but I had to look up the spellings. No one ever accused me of being a good student. The story is also a reminder to me that I have a great deal to be humble about.
This post has been sitting in the draft file for a couple of days now because it felt kind of unfinished, so here is one last thought to end it on.
I woke up again this morning so it's gonna' be another great day!