The setting for this path in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco is deceiving. The log steps are too far apart to accommodate the stride of a normal person. A seven-footer might be able to negotiate them, but the rest of us will have our feet sink into redwood chips, accentuating the long reach to the next log. Much of life can be like this path–seemingly simple tasks are fraught with unexpected setbacks. For example, I was making a seven-foot high quilt ladder this week. I was about to secure the last rung with a nail gun when I hit a knot that sent the nail sideways. Two subsequent attempts met with the same fate. This craft project, made with $6 worth of materials, was almost completed in record time, instead, it had become a cheap wood disaster. Fortunately, it was only a hobby experience.
Every tunnel needs a light at the end, the way out. We aren’t designed to live in darkness, so we thirst for signs that will show us how to illuminate our lives. Yesterday the pastor in Sutherland Springs, Texas asked the community to choose light over darkness in the aftermath of a devil’s massacre. The choice, if that’s what it is, may be a moment of pure symbolism that doesn’t alter the fact that you should look both ways before crossing the street. The alternative, to live with hate and revenge, is a darkness that drapes any horrific act of killing. We really have no choice but to go towards the light, the way out.
Today is Veteran’s Day n the U.S.A. I’m a veteran as is my brother as well as our parents, both deceased, who fought in WWII. Dad was a squadron leader and navigator on a B-17, the Windy Lou, while mom, a nurse, took care of the wounded. I think of my parents today and the long years of sacrifices they made while in uniform. My parents rarely discussed the war when I was growing up and when they did, the conversation was masked with words about bad food and shore leave. Some of the horrors they experienced weren’t revealed to me until I was an adult–like short bursts of gunfire, the graphic accounts were stated quickly, then left to echo in my memory.
I like the curve of land and water called Whalers Cove at Point Lobos. There are wooden benches by the trail where you can sit and watch the tide roll in. I’ve been here many times and noticed that people don’t stay seated for very long. I’m guilty of the same behavior. I’d like to get to the point where I don’t think about how long I’ve been sitting.
We should take more “stops” in life, moments when we pause to consider what’s important to us and others.
I was walking down this road lined with parked cars and coastal vegetation. I’ve been on this “path” many times, so I had a sense of what to expect. But this time there was a human figure in the distance. With each step I took the figure grew larger in the middle of the road. I ignored the scenery on the sides, instead, concentrating on this stationary person. I was closing in on a man on a cell phone. Hadn’t expected that result. Why was he talking in the middle of the road? He avoided eye contact with me as he continued his conversation while I passed. I caught a burst of words that tied everything together–the why of he was there. I stopped, looked both ways and crossed a main street. Life goes on with its array of choices and the energy of people trying to make the pieces fit when they will not.
It was windy in Sacramento yesterday, releasing leaves from trees in an early sign that fall was coming. One leaf was caught in the wires of a baseball backstop. I imagine it will have more company today.
I look forward to the change of seasons, especially fall. The air becomes crisp and shadows grow long in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the news of the day continues to be tragic to a point where it is difficult to ignore events that reinforce this sense of helplessness in our abilities to change life for the better. We must not let ourselves become leaves caught in a wire backstop.