by Mike Pyatt
One song writer from yesteryear, wrote with high lyrical talent, “Just suppose that with your love, I’d have no cause to ever worry, and life would go on, with bursts of joy and fury; and with His blessings from above; I’ll never take for granted, Your love. Just suppose.” More than a song, it’s a fount of romantic aphorisms. Ever contemplate how easy it is to take others for granted? That list could be inconsolably long. From family to friends, to Faith. Many languish longer on Facebook than in conversation with love ones. Would one’s heart grow weary if no one cared? Just suppose our blessings, that we often yawn and shrug at, on a quotidian basis, vanished tomorrow. Emily Bronte, in Last Lines, showcases the fearlessness of unshaken Faith, “No coward soul is mine, No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere: I see heaven’s glories shine, And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.”
Do we too easily surrender to the mundane, banal aspects of life, squandering sublime moments, that define, and carve out one’s significance? Some choose to reject those easily besetting allurements that are commonplace and unremarkable. Not that the prosaic isn’t part of nearly everyone’s calendar. However, when one ignores distant ringing of a chapel bell, exchanging it for the clamor of random crowds, and distracting social chatter, one’s on the road to what James Baldwin, described in Giovanni’s Room, “The question is banal but one of the real troubles with living is that life is so banal. Everyone, after all, goes the same dark road…” Thankfully, we’re not obligated to continuing down that shrouded, beaten path. Just suppose we have a choice in this melodrama, that’s often more tragic than comedic. Once Fallen, Man, with eyes wide open, journeyed East of Eden, the ominous shadows haunted and pursued him perpetually. There remains joy in the journey, despite this mark man carries until his redemption. Just suppose that if one closely scrutinized one’s role in this venture, would it make a difference? Might our journey be sweeter, with a refocused gaze?
If one isn’t circumspect, one could fall prey to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1843, fictional character. This short story, The Birthmark, about an18th Century scientist, Aylmer, who was obsessed in his life’s pursuit of how nature works, to the detriment of his social and personal life, until, after putting his test tubes aside, long enough to marry a beautiful woman, Georgiana. Sadly, Aylmer, exchanged one obsession for another. His further obsession with perfection, robbed his bride of her former sense of beauty. Aylmer’s preoccupation regarding a small red birthmark on her cheek, the shape of a tiny hand, in his estimation, had become ugly. Georgiana internalized his malignant obsession, and thereafter was devastated. In the end, Aylmer’s obsession with this small blemish, with “good intentions,” concocted an elixir, produced in his lab, to remove her blemish, ultimately terminating her life. Could we be so obsessed with perfection, that we’d crush an exquisite bloom, formerly cherished, after discovering a minor, albeit insignificant flaw? Just suppose we’re wiser. Imagine how many offsprings agonized for years, ever falling short, to satisfy parental preoccupation with illusory perfection, leaving an indelible mark for life. And no elixir to remove it.
Worry? Just suppose one were to heap scorn and ridicule upon worry. That despicable, ungrateful guest-one you injudiciously invited for a brief visit-who now occupies permanent residence-even when disinvited, won’t leave. He’ll drain our being of genuine peace, replace sleep with insomnia, foster depression, and prematurely ages his followers, masquerading as one who’s peerless. His primary mission-to insidiously wreak misery upon his legion of devotees. Next time “worry knocks at your door,” let the Spirit answer, staring worry in the eye, replying, “You’re no longer welcome here! ”Worry’s seductive, exacting maximum misery. Purloining our joy. Biggest thief in town. In1954, Bing Crosby recorded, Count Your Blessings, “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep…” Sage advise.
Worry? A moment in time, or way of life? For many, worry’s auto-biographical. Just suppose, every time “worry shows up for work,” don’t permit him to “clock in.” Imagine worry as a brick, each time one frets, one brick at a time, it doesn’t build a house suitable for habitation. Rather, it constructs an imposing wall, a barrier, between we and God. He towers above it all-as our sentinel-while we cower behind it, convincing ourselves that secularized worry’s only standard fare. Harvard Medical School’s 2008, long-term health study, published in 2012, indicated prolonged chronic anxiety and worry affected nearly 40 million adults, who experienced anxiety disorders. Common factors were unwarranted fear, and exaggerated worry that interrupts daily living. Two-thirds were females. As Christian, in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, we’re not designed to carry that burdensome load. Peter exhorted us, “Casting all our anxiety upon Him, because He cares about you.” Jesus’ track record’s unparalleled.
Just suppose one’s meaning teeters upon things-stuff that no longer gratify, as before. Call it materialism. Nothing wrong with owning things. Only when those things own us. Most things depreciate, rust, go out-of-style, or fall apart. G.K Chesterton, on things, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” At its apex, materialism magnifies itself above all that’s holy, what T.S. Eliot termed “permanent things.” Inordinate attachment to things often leads to detachment from Godliness.
Again, just suppose, whatever one has, it’s understood, we’re only stewards, holding things gingerly, while clutching those we love and cherish, closer to our breast. Christians aren’t called to handicap our leverage by unabated fretting. Worry nags us. Tough times too.
Our reach, our touch, though restrained by this earthen clod; may inexorably transcend this domain, known only to God; oblivious to the world’s preoccupied glare, enduringly resting before eternity’s stare. Just suppose. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s email@example.com