Monday, October 1, 2012

Then and Now

It's October now, and summer is drawing to a close -- however slowly -- and I am sad to realize I didn't get to make nearly as many trips up to the islands as I'd been planning.

... which seems to be happening each year, despite the best of intentions.  The reasons are always different (this year it was a bum knee and three plays I was involved in) but the end result is the same: not enough time in the islands, and not enough drives through Washington's beautiful Skagit Valley to get there.

I was thinking a bit about that this morning, reading in Eugene Peterson's Run With the Horses about Jeremiah's words to the exiled leaders of Jerusalem, stuck in Babylon and longing for home.  Jeremiah essentially tells them to stop wishing for the past and longing for the future: bloom where you're planted.  I mean, yes, I miss life on a small island, miss the beauties of rural Washington -- and I'd like to revisit that, however briefly, from time to time.  But here is where I am, and this is what life is asking of me at the moment.  It makes sense to embrace what is rather than wasting time wishing I were somewhere else.

It seems to me that this is a message common to the wisdom literature of all faiths and belief systems, Abrahamic or otherwise.  It was perhaps most simply expressed in Ram Dass's famous title, Be Here Now,  but the heart of it is that to get the fullest benefit from life, you really need to be present to it, to live it, to notice what's around you and participate fully rather than dwelling on past regrets and glories or anticipating future challenges and opportunities. 

It seems to me that the political advertising this year is deeply entangled with America's longing for an economically healthier past -- and an economically healthy future.  Lots of promises are being made that seem to be designed to tap into exactly the same sort of hunger the Jewish leaders were experiencing in Babylon: a longing for things to be the way they were... AGAIN. 

My question for the members of both parties who are trying to gain my vote is this: and what are we doing about how things are NOW?

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