What does it matter

“And what, O Queen, are those things that are dear to a man? Are they not bubbles? Is not ambition but an endless ladder by which no height is ever climbed till the last unreachable rung is mounted? For height leads on to height, and there is not resting-place among them, and rung doth grow upon rung, and there is no limit to the number.”
Sir H. Rider Haggard

Crater Lake Rim Trial, Crater Lake, Oregon / Julie Cook / 2013

I was recently reading about a conversation between Father Maximilian Kolbe and a German Gestapo Officer, albeit a conversation via correspondence only, in which Kolbe was petitioning the officer for approval to be able to print an important monthly newsletter. The Germans had garrisoned the small Polish town in which Fr.Kolbe’s monastery resided, having shut down his daily operations. Fr Kolbe’s monastery, Niepokalanow, which had grown to be one of the largest Franciscan Monasteries in the world, was responsible for the printing and distributing of the periodical The Knight, which was a newsletter devoted to his Marian Militia of the Immaculata–the army of Mary.

Fr Kolbe wrote several letters requesting permission to print the newsletter with, all but one, landing upon deaf ears. It was the final approval, with the writing, then the printing and distribution that was the final straw that broke the camel’s back between Fr Kolbe and the German “guests” of Poland. But it was of his appeal, in one of the many letters, which struck a chord with me….

In one or two hundred years, you and I will no longer be alive. Then all of our problems will be settled, even the most important, and only one will remain: Will we still exist at that moment, and where? Will we be happy? It is the same for all men. Every hour brings us closer to that moment. Our review [the review being the periodical The Knight] deals with this kind of problem.

It was noted that the German Officer was obviously not concerned about his own happiness nor of his place or position in one to two hundred years….sadly so I might add.

The point being that so much of today’s troubles and conflicts will be of little to no importance or consequence in 100 years (or truly even less), as none of us will be around to carry on the quibbling. Kolbe’s observation resonated deeply in my thoughts. The truly more important matter, which Fr Kolbe noted, was the query as to where it is we will all be in said distant future and will we be happy.

Oh I suppose that if mankind is still around, as is likely, in 100 to 200 years from now, I am certain that some morphed version of today’s issues and conflicts will still be manifesting themselves… without having missed a single beat. As the perpetual and oh so elusive desire for World Peace will continue flowing from the charts of hopes and dreams…

So I am left to wonder, what does all of this ugliness matter anyway…as all of this is to one day pass away…as will we in equal turn.

What does appear to matter, however, is the concept of the soul and of the welcoming home of that soul to the Father’s house. But I suppose you’d have to believe in the concept of having a soul, a loving Father and an eventual place that is waiting on the prodigal to return…otherwise, nothing matters…… and how terribly empty is that?
and so it goes….

Morning Shadows

Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of supreme importance in perspective, because, without them opaque and solid bodies will be ill defined; that which is contained within their outlines and their boundaries themselves will be ill-understood unless they are shown against a background of a different tone from themselves.
Leonardo DaVinci

(photograph: Crater Lake Rim Trail/ early morning shadows/ Julie Cook/ 2013)

Sometimes things aren’t what they seem to appear. Most often there is always something more than what meets the eye. Are you one who accepts things at face value or are you the type who prefers to ruminate a tad over what confronts you—mulling it over, chewing on the ol cud as it were…..?

I unfortunately, in my youth, was one to be a bit reactionary. I think that was, in part, because I tend to be one who feels deeply and passionately which often allowed my emotions to get the better of me. Hot headed and yet deeply and firmly committed, I was an “act first, think secondly” kind of person. That had it’s pros but it also had its cons. It was, and currently still is, a calling card of youth, inexperience and impatience. Maybe that is simply so because the youth have more energy ready to expand.

Time, fortunately, has been kind to me with regard to my reactionary ways. Mellowing with age has been a blesséd event indeed. Sadly and undoubtedly I have left debris in my wake—regretful acts and words–hurtful to me and others…. Thankfully the knee jerk reaction is no longer as quick as it once was (the torn ACL may have something to do with that, but I digress).

I have learned to wait, to look again, to look closely before jumping to a conclusion, going off the deep end, blowing up, raising the battle cry…as things are not, usually, what they first appear to be. There are usually various solutions to whatever is coming down the pike and it does not have to necessarily be one of anger, counter anger, violence or that of a battle.

And maybe the jumping to a conclusion too readily is also part of that immediate, knee jerk reaction. Time graciously grants hindsight and experience–enough to know that what first appears as one thing is most likely something else entirely—and as that is, there is a calm reason, rationale, explanation that is usually behind all the blustery bravado of the immediate presentation—that’s what age gives to us—a clearer vision and a calmer demeanor to better handle, cope with or deal with the current crisis of the hour.

So the next time you’re faced with something that seems to hit you on the blind side, something that appears out of the blue, or something that provokes you to loose your cool—your natural instinct is one of fight or flight—that’s how we’re wired, but instead allow yourself a few precious moments to gather your wits, weigh your options and consider the out comes–you might even surprise yourself as to how quickly something that had a volatile potential, shrinks like a fading flower.

Is it really what you think it is—or is it something else…..