by Mike Pyatt
With the 2016 Presidential race in the rearview mirror, the liberal pundits are still focused on what President Trump hasn’t accomplished in his first one-hundred days. Wyoming’s still faced with the uncertainty of our fragile economy, inextricably linked to energy. Coal may get a needed boost from the Trump administration. Many are heartened he’ll stoke our economy, reduce strangling regulations, and be the first sitting President to address the NRA, since Ronald Reagan in1983. Yet we’re jarred into reality when we realize that the only thing more fragile than such issues is life itself.
One day we are the picture of health, the next day, a stroke, heart attack, or worse. It’s those nagging questions that vex us. Not easy ones, like “Which movie do we see this week?” Or “Should we switch to E-trade or stick with Charles Schwab?” Granted, one has more than long-term implications than the other. Bloomberg Business Week, asked the Cupertino crowd, “Will kids still find Apple stuff cool?” Important? Relatively so, to different sectors of the public. Do such questions meet the threshold of a watershed event? Some may use the term “gritty” questions. Webster defines it as, “harsh and unpleasant.” Many “seasoned citizens” opined, “If I had any idea of living this long, I would’ve taken better care of myself.” Of course, we’re all “bullet proof” in our youth, and most of us rebuffed sage advise on a healthy lifestyle, and pursued our own recalcitrant ways.Then reality showed up one day.
What about those events that interrupt our sleep, and unswervingly beckons disharmony and dissonance to our sense of well being. It’s those circumstances that shake our previous state of certitude, draining every fiber of our being, as our reverie is ripped rapaciously from our grasp. We’re left vulnerable and exposed. Are we just “paying the piper?” Or is it the ebb and flow of life? Suddenly, that formerly compliant, quick-to-please offspring, uncharacteristically implodes socially and morally, violating every value that you imparted, wreaking havoc on the family. Stealing and lying. Is it drugs? How could that happen? Hence, the beginning of a litany of “Why me?” Most troubling is that no one saw it coming. Questions assail us, upon the wings of an echo’s silence, unimpeded, falling on seemingly deaf ears. Or being blind-sided by the disappearance of a three year old grandson, under the veil of suspicion-never found. Only hollow questions remain in a shroud of silence. Is there respite for the soul in the midst of such upheaval.
Other than one’s spiritual destiny, nothing’s more important, or precarious, than our health. It may be the ravages of cancer that has lurked beneath the surface undetected for many years to finally rear its ugly head in the life of an apparently healthy, vibrant forty year old high school coach. Months later his shocked family and friends mourn and weep over his lifeless body. The fragility of life deigns to challenge our soft veneer. The human spirit is nearly indomitable. Yet chronic and protracted illness can reduce a once strong soul into an unrecognizable “hull of a former mighty vessel.” Most of us have been in proximity of those battles, only to watch some pass, despite our tears and pleading. How does one confront such travails? Disquieting scenarios run counter to our romanticized notion of passing quietly in our favorite recliner.
Sadly, some health conditions are self-imposed. Alcoholics, drug addicts, morbid obesity, after years of over indulgence at the table, and the majority of those who contracted HIV/Aids did so after a risky lifestyle of “casual sex” and behaviors that have “grave consequences.” Since the first “warning label” in 1965, on cigarette packs, Congress passed the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, hundreds of thousands have succumbed to COPD, emphysema, and other cardio pulmonary diseases associated primarily with smoking. Imposing further “sin taxes?” The FDA has resorted to more grisly, onerous labeling tactics, showing the top-half of a cadaver after surgery to stem the tide of cigarette smoking aimed to keep “smoke free kids.” Another “scared stiff” program gone awry. With “compliments” from China and neighboring Mexico, we’re faced with a deadly mix of heroin and carfentanyl, to further destabilize our drug dependent culture.
We prate of our health, yet are far too cavalier about it.The Psalmist captured the brevity of life, “Man’s life is as a breath, his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Fifty years ago it was a verse. At three score and twelve, it’s a reality. Most are grateful benefactors of advanced medical technology, focused on preventative health. A diagnosis of breast cancer may no longer be a death sentence. However, not all healing comes at the hand of the physician.There’s a perfidious side to absolute reliance on medicine. For those who’ve passed from us, one realizes that we have no sway over the grave. We can honor their memory. For the survivors of a malady, accident, or self-inflicted act, and those carrying the burden of a congenital disease, we’re able to offer a fervent prayer, helping hand, or a word of encouragement to hasten the healing process.
Given the precarious nature of this fragile life, and its unpredictability, most of which are beyond our reach, it may be advisable to plan ahead for eternity. The suffering don’t need our pity. They may be beleaguered, but not beaten. Near death, some have had a miraculous healing, and rise up again. We can choose to look to Him who ultimately answers all of our “gritty questions.” Evangelicals know our “anchor will hold,” though were tossed about. What about from a would-be grave? Or languishing for years in a prison cell for a deed one didn’t commit? Such questions vex one’s soul, leaving us reeling for years. None are exempt. Surprisingly, there can be joy in our journey. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org