Some time ago, I read about the phenomenon that what we find changes who we become . This is also true of who we find as well. It is not hard for me to see where I have been drastically shaped by who I have found and who has found me, or by the fact that people have found me in certain ways and not in others. Today offered a good opportunity to reflect on the multifarious ways in which we are connected with people and how we have been changed as a result of the way that our lives have crossed with other lives. Sometimes we may celebrate the connections and hope that they deepen and grow. At other times we may lament the connection and wish that we could somehow go back and do things differently but we cannot. What we have done is done, and we can forgive but we cannot go back and do what we should have done or not do what we did and should not have done.
This afternoon in choir practice I found myself, as is often the case, as the only tenor. In this particular case I had some concern that I had caused some offense to our choir director by having lamented the lack of communication about practices and all. More than most people, I tend to be rather sensitive to the absence of communication , and I am often concerned that when this frustration and irritation reaches such a level that it can no longer be politely ignored that it is not sufficiently politely expressed. The last thing I would want is to be irritated about a lack of communication only to find that every effort of communicating only made such communication more unwelcome and unappreciated. Indeed, it might be said that the stress over communication as well as the stress about the song I sang for tonight’s variety show was likely the main reason why I ended up having a nosebleed while driving home from church, which I managed to discreetly deal with until I was able to get home and get to my tissue box and deal with it. Sometimes I wonder why it is that a fairly humdrum life such as I live has to be so insanely stressful to the point where I cannot go to church, be involved in a few activities, and drive home without spilling out blood from my longsuffering right nostril the way I spill out words on this blog.
I can think of quite a few people whom I interact with on a regular basis who have changed my life in ways that are worthy of profound thanks. I happen to have interacted with some of them today, and to have missed a few others who were not present for some reason or another. I also found it somewhat remarkable how much the same subjects were on different people’s minds with regards to our congregation’s annual variety show. There was our annual puppet show skit, with a husband and wife team, struggling with bad attitudes and feeling bad about having shown generosity without feeling generous minded about it. There was my song, with its obvious context about wrestling with the legacy of my own tortured relationship with my father and with plenty of other people in my life for whom crumpled bits of paper filled with imperfect thoughts and stilted conversations is all I have from such relationships, and no amount of reflection or self-criticism is going to make any of that better without some sort of kind communication. There were a couple of lovely piano solos from two of the young people who regularly attend my Sabbath School classes, one of which is technically a teenager according to our age ranges but feels very comfortable around younger children and not very confident at all with her peers, as sweet a child as she happens to be. There was another skit that made fun of some people for being suckers and some beautiful singing from one of my friends who poked gentle fun at her job as a teacher’s aide. There was a fairly usual banjo sit dealing with the threat of nuclear destruction as befits someone who spent a lot of time in the cold war, and there was a set of immensely talented sisters who closed our show with a touching duet about how people can be changed for good by knowing each other dedicated to our resident a capella choir director and banjo player, and sometime psychologist. Life is complicated, and certainly the people I know are as complicated as I am myself, with so many different roles, so many clashing fears and longings, drives and ambitions, and so much heavy freight in my own life. I can only hope that I am not as much a terror to others as they often are to me.
Of course, now that I am at home, minus a fair amount of blood from my nose, and trying to relax and go to bed reasonably early, what should happen but that there should be sirens of all kinds going on and on near where I live. Who knows what it is for? On a night like this nearly eleven years ago my father had a massive stroke while driving home from church at the age of 59. Six weeks later, he was dead from a massive heart attack. Whether someone’s death comes suddenly or takes place over a long time, we can only communicate with the living. When someone is no longer alive, no matter how much we may reflect on our history of interactions with them, they will never be around, at least not this side of the judgment, to clear up the matters that could have been discussed. Whatever apologies have to be made, whatever reconciliation there is to be made, whatever work is needed to overcome the awkwardness of our lives, we can only do it while we live and draw breath. That time may not be as long as we might like.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: