We sometimes wake to mornings like this–
a light mist formed above frozen ground,
muffled sounds from the road up on the ridge,
an old bridge groaning under the load
of a grain truck easing its way toward town,
the neighbor’s damn dog barking… again.
On these windless days, we make our way
toward the next of our lives–
habits of work and weekends,
spending what time we can call our own
doing too little of the things that bring us
something like satisfaction,
cramming what we can of diversion
into such small spaces it feels
more like punishment than pleasure.
We measure the distance between what we have
and what we were pretty sure we wanted
and wonder how it is
we ended up this far apart.
At some point, we begin to think
of those we’ve loved and lost,
gauge the cost of giving up against going on.
At some further point, if we’re truly averse
to our own happiness, we begin to reflect
on how we will someday join the going on
and how little difference it will make.
A week, a month, a year or two,
and the mist will rise again above frozen ground,
trucks will rumble toward town,
and some other damn dog will be barking
in this great, grinding cycle of that grand benevolent indifference
which is so vital to the world, so numbing to the one
listening for the echo of his own yapping through the fog,
waiting for some reflecting ripple
from the lichened limestone bluffing the bank of a stony creek.
Even through the grayness of such days as this,
we listen through the mist, meekly sensing the Spirit
in his drawing nearness, speaking in that soft, intimate voice,
of choices and changes, the beauty of duty done in small ways,
reminding us that we are not measured in the ways of the world,
not in gains and losses, trash and treasure,
but whether or not we have listened to something more grand,
yielded to the touch of an unseen hand.
Regardless of the size of the stone that marks our passing,
regardless of the size of the crowd that mourns,
all else matters not but the asking of two simple questions:
Have we loved one another?
Have we loved the One Who Has Made Us?