“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” ~ Karl Barth.
This week I am wrapping up a ‘Spring Break’ – a week off between semesters, where it is often hard to truly ‘break’ away. Finals’ week is always hectic, with unexpected slowdowns and distractions. Can electronic gradebooks be trusted? Out come calculators and old-fashioned computations, and if a discrepancy is found, where is the error? While finalizing one semester we are getting ready for another, last minute admissions needing information and schedules and clarifications.
We all know how unhealthy it is not to be able to disconnect. Some companies (more in Europe than in the US) have started implementing policies of not allowing employees to check emails after hours, or on weekends, or when on vacation. Covid and the work-from-home movement turned our personal retreats into an extension of the office, turned ‘on-line’ into ‘on-call’. Many of us are now negotiating how to return to more balanced life.
It is the blessings and advances of technology that have become our new slave-masters. Once upon a time, if you weren’t at home (or didn’t answer the phone) when someone called, you wouldn’t even know who it was! Pre cell phone and caller ID and answering machine, it was all a game of chance. Did you get my letter? Now people can track whether we read an email, saw a ‘What’s App’ message, or track our entries on social media to know what we are up to. Much harder to disappear.
However, this week, even though distracted, I was fortunate to travel to areas of Florida that I haven’t seen before, seen views and taken photos of sights previously unknown. Enjoyed the wild beauty of Canaveral National Seashore, walked through the gardens of an abandoned sugar mill (the Seminoles got the better of those slave-owners – hopefully the enslaved Africans escaped to a better life!), and climbed to the top of my second Florida lighthouse.
Sometimes it is not what you do, or where you go, but your attitude. In fact, it is almost always about your attitude. We may spend a lot of money and travel to the finest hotel and find disappointment or annoyance at things that don’t go right. Or we can find pleasure in the sight of a wildflower waving in the breeze; try to catch the flight path of pelicans flying in formation against a perfectly blue sky; or savor a tasty chimi-changa (sweet pastry) while hearing reggae-lite played in a converted old garage; or sit on the sand and listen to the surf as the Atlantic crashes onto the shore.
Yesterday kicked off Nurse’s Week, what started as a day has become a week, but in this time of Covid, I believe we have finally reached a greater audience, surely now we will never be taken for granted again. Mother’s Day happens to fall in this week, another group that had to have a day to remind kids and fathers everywhere to say thank you. Of course, in a capitalist society, that has morphed into everyone having their day now (even chocolate chip cookies!), which somewhat dilutes the impact of all the rest! I read somewhere that if a group of people needs a day of appreciation, they are not getting paid enough!
But there are many people who go below the radar, not getting the appreciation they deserve. And life is so short and unexpected, if we have learned nothing else from this strange year and change, it is that we must seize the moment and miss no opportunity to let people know how we feel about them.
My high school is reeling this week, after a horrific car crash took the lives of the drivers of both vehicles; one was the much-loved school bus driver, and the other a local taxi man. In a flash, so many lives have been impacted, and two men are not going home. It is hard to make sense of losses like these, but we owe it to those whose lives are cut short to make the most of our own time on earth.
Since I am still on vacation, my FMM this morning will be shorter than usual. My mother once reminded me that my father did not deliver his Friday Morning Messages every Friday, when school was on vacation, so was he! And yet he preached almost every Sunday morning for all of his working life, and continued once or twice a month well into his retirement. In amongst the papers that my mother saved, I found a list he had made of ‘sermon topics’ – themes he used to generate his weekly homilies. One of these days I should compile my own list!
This Friday morning, I hope you are appreciating every little thing, and every person in your life. We pass this way but once, and according to Ram Dass, ‘we are all just walking each other home’. I hope that on your journey you have plenty of people who make you laugh; who are good companions along the way; and I hope you let them know how much you appreciate them. To all the teachers, mothers and nurses out there: ‘I appreciate you’ (sung in my best Tupac imitation voice).
Have a wonderful weekend, Family!