The year of 2016 has sucked for me and for others that I know and love. I’m reminded of what “Red Emma” Goldman said: “Voting is the opiate of the people; every four years it deadens the pain.” I’m not as much of an anarchist as Emma was, but this was on my mind when I stood in the 90 minute line to vote a few weeks ago. In my readings since then, I’m buoyed by something James Baldwin wrote: “One must say yes to life, and embrace it wherever it is found and it is found in terrible places. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” Heady, powerful words, but they need to be said out loud and often.
One surprise in my life began on Monday when I saw my pulmo doc, a lung man if there ever was one. The simple act of adding two medications to my regimen has changed my lungs in ways I could never imagine. No shortness of air dressing, none when showering, none when I get up off my dead ass (as my father would say) and do something other than just sitting there.
On a sad note, a longtime friend, Stan Nevis, died. He was Jewish, married to a colleague, Deacon Nancy Nevins. Stan called himself a ‘Jewpalian’ and I will miss him greatly. He was always ready with a quip or pun or really good story. Heaven has gotten an amazing soul and I’m sure he’s still greeting the newcomers as their souls clock-in for eternity.
My happiness came twice this year, first when Annie and Ben had a baby girl, Gila Rae Afton. She has Ben’s eyes and Annie’s feet, which came down my line of DNA…prehensile toes with a death grip. I’ll see her on Saturday and can’t wait. My second happiness was when Dawn and I legally adopted Becca Tish. She has been our joy and she is holding down a job and recently found a young man at work who is now her boyfriend.
Life is what you make of it. I lost a part of my life that I will never get back when I was very ill this past spring. I have no memory of anything that happened. I had an eye exam I don’t remember, but the prescription is the best I’ve ever had. My first memory is waking up in Bishop Spencer Place with no memories of the previous six weeks. If felt like I got a second chance at this thing we call life. So maybe it wasn’t as bad a year as it could have been. Lessons not learned are retaught.
Many of our blessings come hiding in plain sight. All we have to do is open our eyes to see them and offer thanks to God for them.
My spiritual life is very important to me. In this upcoming Advent I will be praying and inwardly digesting my favorite Psalm, number 145. This psalm has always spoken to me and I turn to it often in my walk with God. I’ll close with it, NLT version. Ignore the verse numbers. (mea culpa)
1 I will exalt you, my God and King,
and praise your name forever and ever.
2 I will praise you every day;
yes, I will praise you forever.
3 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure his greatness.
4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
5 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
and your wonderful miracles.
6 Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
8 The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 The Lord is good to everyone.
He showers compassion on all his creation.
10 All of your works will thank you, Lord,
and your faithful followers will praise you.
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
they will give examples of your power.
12 They will tell about your mighty deeds
and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
13 For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.
The Lord always keeps his promises;
he is gracious in all he does.[b]
14 The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15 The eyes of all look to you in hope;
you give them their food as they need it.
16 When you open your hand,
you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20 The Lord protects all those who love him,
but he destroys the wicked.
21 I will praise the Lord,
and may everyone on earth bless his holy name
forever and ever.