When times get tough, we often turn to the words of a poet or a balladeer to give us hope, to soothe our angst, and sometimes, to crank us up. Many paint only a picture of an ideal. . . in essence, a dream. John Lennon gave us that in “Imagine.” Imagining away religion, patriotism, hunger and competition seemed to smooth away all of the ugliness of the world. After all, “with nothing to kill or die for” we certainly would live better lives, wouldn’t we? Imagine such a world as that.
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If I’ve just trashed your favorite song of all time, please stay with me for a minute.
In the later verses of the song, John Lennon writes of bringing the world together and sharing the wealth of the world. While we can dream of a time when that would happen, the writer makes it unlikely by entrusting that exercise to humankind without a higher power.
A dream of that magnitude requires a vision and definite action. While dreams can burn softly like candles, only true vision fueled by process can ignite the fires that bring change and progress. Our prolific Beatle has a point here. Too often, action and progress, framed only in mortal idealism, give way to greed, lust, and attempts at domination. Imagine if there was none of that.
But that same action and progress, when formed in the image of One who is greater, brings about what Lennon is really seeking . . . Heaven on earth.
Imagine walking side by side with that One. Imagine sharing and building together. Imagine loving each other as God loves each of us. At the very least, it gives us something to “die for.”
It seems more and more I find myself with a lot to say, but find no words that are adequate.
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I’ve experienced this for years when facing the loss of a loved one or a friend. Even the words that are true and right just don’t seem to express my feelings at a given moment. And so I sit in silence. Or perhaps I repeat the same neutral, void-filling phrase over and over again.
Other life events bring similar moments. When a friend or family member makes choices with less than positive circumstances . . . when a friend or family member ignores what I said when I had something to say . . . when . . . when things I have previously said have hurt or isolated or angered another — even when my words were absolutely correct.
Sometimes there is no event, no particular moment. Sometimes words can’t impact the most glorious of spontaneous, non-history-making instants. Sometimes . . .
Rarely a day goes by that I don’t find myself in a conversation with someone who has no idea of what I’m talking about. It’s all about context, you see. OK. Sometimes it’s about my inability to communicate clearly. But most of the time it’s about context. Our phases of life just don’t match up.
It’s disheartening sometimes to mention a song, or a movie, or a book — or a President! — and have the other person look back at you with a puzzled expression. I sometimes inwardly groan as I anticipate how hard it will be to bring this person to my level of experience.
But then I think “I don’t have to.” Each of these good folks have their own phases of life to look forward to. Looking back at mine is not something they need to invest in. And, to a large extent, it’s really not something I need to invest in.
We all have a chance to live our phases. We can only imagine what those times will bring.
It is always my hope that I will do better in a new year. Better diet, more exercise, less sin, more friends, and a lot more family.
Yet, I never seem to get there.
Pounds cling to my body, chances to stretch and to strengthen are too often left by the wayside, I do what I want — even when I don’t really want it, I sit alone and I think about me too much.
I’m excited about a brand new year. Despite my failings to improve in my 60+ years, I still have hope. In fact, in many ways I have done better year after year at many of these resolutions. It’s just that I have had such a long way to travel — and the path stretches out in front of me for quite a ways.
As I age, I’m becoming more and more aware of the danger of emphasizing SELF-improvement over a joyous, focused effort to walk closely with God.
Better times are often less a product of what we avoid and more the result of what we actively pursue.
That’s where we should be headed this year. No doubt, we may veer from that course from time to time. But with eyes trained on Him, we can’t help but do better.
Writing on December 31 always presents a problem. People have expectations. People have needs. Yet, I feel drawn to create something completely different.
Let’s face it. On the last day of the year, you probably have little interest in reading something life-changing. Frankly, even something inspiring can be a little daunting.
What you expect is for writers to reveal their wisdom regarding New Year Resolutions. Or, you seek out the countercultural group that write, at great length, about their disdain in reference to New Year Resolutions.
The trick for me is to not write about either perspective. Of course, I had to write about both in order to tell you that I was writing about neither.
What I just realized is that, now that I’ve started down this path, there is little I can do to distract you from New Year Resolutions. I count that as a character fault on your part and I accept no responsibility.