Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Only Thing We Have

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”
- Angela Monet

I love my deck.

Its not much, really. Some comfortable chairs, some floral arrangements and greenery. Surrounded by woods.

Its quiet. Occasioned by the sounds of the distant neighbors dogs barking at imaginary bogey men. My iPod plays out my favorite songs du jour. I can drink my favorite adult beverage. My wonderful wife usually joins me for a while and we talk. Sometimes its just me, or just me and the dogs.

From my deck you can see nothing. But from my deck you can see everything.

Good weeks and bad weeks both find their homes on my deck. Sometimes its triumphal relaxation. Oftentimes its reflection and planning. Sometimes, its nothing more than relaxing and de-stressing.

This past week could fairly well be said to be one of those "what-just-happened-to-me?" weeks. The week started with an unplanned trip to the dentist (which can never be good) and was finished with the yearly physical with my family doctor (something every middle age man dreads). These wonderful events sandwiched two fifteen hour days and a third trying to get caught up. Nothing, but nothing, went as expected. Especially the visit with my family doctor.

I like my doctor. He reminds me of "House", except his humor isn't quite as sharp.

I'm not the type to worry too much about my health (a fact you can probably tell) but his congratulations to me for beating out 25% of my compatriots made me stop and think. Typically, that would be a good thing. But he was referencing the fact that the first symptom 25% of people with heart disease have is sudden death.

Come again, doc? Hmm.

That will wake you up some. My ticker, he says, is making a sound that it shouldn't. Instead of "tic-toc" its saying "tic-ta-toc." Think that clicking sound under the hood when your teenage daughter thinks driving the car with the oil light on is a good idea. Its one of them things that make you go, hmmm....

The good news, he said, is that its still making a sound. So I win something, just not quite sure what. He says its some new doctors in my not too distant future. Won't Blue Cross / Blue shield love that?

I'm sure I will tell them they same thing I tell my family doctor: I'm the best patient you will ever have; I know I am going to die, your job is to keep it at bay so I can live.

So back to my deck. What does this have to do with my deck?

"What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him." Ecc. 3:9-14

The Teacher caps off his famous "for everything there is a time, and season for everything under heaven" passage with this simple observation. Clearly, the Teacher had a back deck. And clearly, he sat in the stillness to appreciate all that God had done already. He knew the rest that the writer of Hebrews spoke: a rest that says we may approach our God in the quietness of the deck and find mercy and grace in our time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

From my deck I can see into the master bedroom and my wife working hard at her job. I can see into the living room as the kids watch TV and dogs play. I can hear the sounds of the trees, and look into the sky. I can try to fathom the things of God, and laugh at my failure. And I can relax in the moment. And think of nothing. And everything.

In those moments the world is right.

Perhaps blogging about it shows that the doctor's news bothers me. But I really don't think it does.

As I sit here on the deck I can see the most important people in my life, that which I toil for, and I feel the presence of God. From the deck I can see how He has provided for me while I have been living my life. And I have no doubt that will continue.

If anything, my deck reminds me that no matter the outcome of any medical exam or work experience, I can refocuses my mind on the things and places and people that are really important.

These are the things I frequently lose sight of. And something God quickly brings back to my attention.

For when I lose sight of that which is ultimately important I cease to live anyway, and merely begin to exist.

And that would be something to really fear.