Lent 23, 24, 25
I really value the early morning. Throughout my lifetime I have been surrounded by late sleepers so the early morning was my own personal time and space. It was as the sun began its ascent with its wisps of color heralding a new day that I would imagine the angels and fates beginning to cross the sky, seeking out souls to bless or offer aid and, perhaps, comfort. Regardless of what transpired the day or days before, each new morning was a new gift with unexplored treasures to find.
Recently I began a new exercise regime and, true to my nature, it starts very early. I like that the gym is sparsely crowded because then there are few people to rant and rave. I still value those early morning promises and really dislike it when people want to rehash yesterday’s problems before the sun has settled comfortably in the sky. This truly is, for me, a day which the Lord (or Spirit) has made and I strongly dislike anyone messing with my morning peace. Thank heavens for headphones and mP3/iPod players!
We talked earlier this week about life being a treasure map that we explore during our lifetime. The important thing about such explorations is not just the treasure we may be fortunate to unearth but the lessons learned along the path we travel. I learned early on at the gym that people do not usually want answers or lessons. They just want to exercise their tongues. Our lives really deserve more than just hot air.
One of the movie’s more famous explorers has been, in the past two decades, the character of Indiana Jones, archaeology professor turned detective, seeking the world’s ancient treasures. Popular on the big screen, his television counterpart would be Josh Gates but we’ll discuss Josh another time.
The perils faced by the fictional Indiana Jones are not uncommon to those faced by actual archaeologists. (By the way, there is a grave at an Episcopal church in Berlin, MD which bears the name of Indian Jones – a real beloved wife with no connection to either Hollywood or the screenwriters.) They also give us some brilliant insights in to some real treasures for living, lessons we all could use.
Respect might be the most important lesson the Indiana Jones movies teach us. Respect for each other should be a given and yet, all too often we think in a “me” frame of mind instead of a “we” frame of mind. Respect for different cultures is also important. Something might seem weird to us but our ways are also just as weird to someone else.
One of Indiana Jones’ shortcomings is to never seem to be adequately prepared for his skirmishes. If there is a gun fight, he always seems to have only a sword and vice versa. Life does not come with guarantees and, in spite of a seemingly endless variety, there really are no crystal balls that foretell the future. What saves Professor Jones is his thinking a problem out and discovering that, as in life, often the answer is a rather simple solution. We need to expect the unexpected (Indiana Jones is always being chased by something – boulders, screaming tribesmen, even snakes.) and then calmly think of a way to deal with what life has given us.
Long ago the wheel was invented, as was fire. It is perfectly okay for us to draw upon the past and walk the steps of those who have gone before us. We need to remember to be humble and accept our own shortcomings. We also need to have the strength to ask for help and admit when we cannot do it all alone. Sometimes we need to have the strength and courage to think outside of the box.
We need to know where we are and with whom we are traveling. There is an old saying “don’t play poker with a pickpocket.” It is good advice, not just for playing cards but for selecting our friends. Too often we allow people into our inner circle that tear us down instead of building us up. Friendship is supposed to be a positive thing. Be very wary of people to whom you are a better friend than they are to you. We need to often have faith in others but most importantly, have faith in ourselves.
Every treasure map seems to lead one to a fork in the road. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” begins a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. The poem speaks to having the courage to take the right path, even though it is not the popular one. Not everything that glitters is really gold and sometimes life’s most golden lessons come to us in the most ugly of forms, tattered and torn but very valuable.
The treasures we hold dear in life say more about us than they do about themselves. It is not what we accumulate that will define us as people. How we have lived and the risks we were willing to take build character. The well-worm sandals of a traveler are not the glittery, sparkling heels of a model but they do show character and a willingness to live. They speak of one who has searched for truth and shared smiles along the journey.
My early morning exercises are not just for my physical body; they are for my soul. The quiet meditative moments of a sunrise will mean very little if I do not share my life. We need to let go of the grief from yesterday but we also need to hold onto each other. We need to live not in fear or focusing on troubles but by walking our paths together, listening and sharing respect, peace, and joy. There is always something new to learn (I Corinthians 13), success to gleam from failures (Philippians 3), and new things to see (Ephesians 1). On my own personal journey, I need to perhaps unplug in order to really grpw and find my own desired success. As Philippians 4:14, advises – Share the ride!