Friday, March 17, 2006


How many chances have you had? How many times have you blown it, only to have someone make allowances, give you the benefit of the doubt, say something on the order of, “You really don’t mean to do it that way, do you?”, and set you back on your way? How much of a safety net do you have, and how often have you used it? With me, it’s past counting.

Where would any of us be without the benefit of beginning again? Without the lowest grade being thrown out? Without someone saying, “I’m going to let this go this time, but don’t let it happen again”? We are all here by virtue of the timely suspension of the three strikes and you are out, three outs and it’s over rule.

And, we have used our opportunity—our second, and third, and who can remember how many, opportunities—to our advantage. We woke up, just in time. We realized what we were on the brink of losing. And, we said, something on the order of, “Oh, you’re so right! I don’t mean to do it that way!” We figured out the game. We played by the rules.

We dressed for the occasion, minded our manners, and showed up for work on time. We paid our bills, mowed the lawn, helped our kids with their homework. And, here we are today. Evidence of what dedication, discipline, and a ton of chances will do for you.

We could not have done it on our own, and we would not have done it without what we “brought to the table.” “We” are a combination of the resources we have had in our lives and our response to those resources. We, for whatever reason, were able to receive, and, to some extent, make the most of, the help our lives gave us.

How long does it take to wake up? How long must we be carried by those who make allowances, and help us to our feet, again, and dust us off, again, and say, “Give it another go”? How long before we get it, kick in, and start doing our part?

When we were 15, 18, 25, we were too arrogant, too cocky, too unimpressed by the shaky, tenuous, fragile nature of the future to think that we had to take care of anything, especially our future. We thought we could do whatever we wanted, try it all, live however we felt like living, because there were thousands of futures out there, all more or less alike, and they would be there waiting for us to show up and receive their gifts. The future will take care of itself, we thought. Our task was to seize the day and live for the moment.

They probably tried to wake us up. They probably said things we couldn’t hear. They probably posted warnings. We probably broke their hearts. But, give it to them, they didn’t give us up. Not all of them, anyway. Enough of them were with us when it mattered. One or two of them helped us up, dusted us off, gave us a job, or a scholarship, or a ten dollar bill, and said something on the order of, “Don’t let your mistakes stop you. Give it another go.”

And, over time, we woke up. We realized that the future is not a sure thing. That we mold and shape what happens there through our response to what happens here, now. We build the future with materials available in the present. Karma, you know.

And, we are, in part, evidence of the karmic influence of those who didn’t give up on us; who didn’t quit; who kept us, if not in the center, at least somewhere in the circle of their concern. They kept us floating until we learned to swim. And, we can celebrate their influence, and appreciate their saving presence, and look for ways to continue their legacy by being present for good in the lives of those who are sound asleep and would sink like a stone except for the hands that keep them floating.

1 comment:

Spirit said...

This, Jim, is the essence of Lent, the journey to the cross we all take time and time again and the forgiveness we receive through the Grace of our Lord. How many times have I taken that journey? I am 56 years old. Multiply that by 365 and you will get just a fraction of that number. The joy is in the forgiveness and in the realization that we are all welcome to the table as you so beautifully say in your earlier post.