Thursday, August 18, 2011
Noble Thoughts or Dirty Spuds
Yesterday was a humdinger. Phones were ringing, people were knocking on the door, the dog got out and headed off to explore the world, and oh yes, the paramedics came right in the middle of all this to transport K. via gurney off to the hospital for his one-month post-surgery check up.
Clearly we were having waaay beyond our usual quota of fun around here, and we are generally a pretty fun bunch even on a normal day. (Of course, I always try to bear in mind that "normal" is just a setting on your clothes dryer. Otherwise, there is no such thing - or state of being.)
Given the general level of "hectivity" - that's a technical term - there was not a lot of time for deep thinking. There was time, or at least I felt I had to make time, for yet another phone call from an extended family member who was having an even tougher day than we were.
She vented for about 45 minutes, and just before she hung up she asked me, "How do you do it? How do you stay sane and balanced in the middle of what you are dealing with?"
I did not want to be either flippant or give some cliched response. But the answer is as basic as any other necessity of life: food, water, air to breathe, shelter, etc. The answer is beginning each day with some time spent with the Creator, who is in complete control, even when I cannot see evidence of it at the moment.
And in thinking about her conversation, it was a monologue of misery. Broken relationships, disappointments with life and everything encompassed therein. Ugly dark places and people she has known. It was an endless litany of discouragement.
This morning I was reading in Philippians, fourth chapter, where we find that marvelous admonishment:
" ... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, think about such things."
Yes, life can be hard, and ugly and dirty. But it can also be wonderful and astonishing, and even lovely from time to time. When I was a very young writer I read a little article, wherein the author encouraged writers to write clean uplifting material. She said her grandmother had always told her that there were two ways to serve whole potatoes after digging them up; either washing them off, or leaving the dirt on them. She pointed out that the potatoes are just as "real" either way; but it is a choice as to whether to serve them with the dirt still on them.
I have never forgotten that story. Unfortunately, I am afraid much of today's society prefers their spuds with the dirt, and sometimes the more dirt the better they seem to like it. Reality TV, which I adamantly refuse to watch, is a potent example of how modern America seems to want to live with as much ugliness, conflict and betrayal as they can rake up.
No thank you. I may be unsophisticated by some standards, but I still prefer to dish up my potatoes well-washed. And I prefer to spend my "thought time" trying to focus on what is noble and good and admirable. Not in a Pollyanna way, but in a focused intentional manner. Mean, ugly thoughts diminish the thinker. I believe the reason we are told to think about noble things is that such thoughts not only help keep us sane, but they inspire us to attempt to do better, and be better.
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Hope you are full of good thoughts today. Until next time ...Marsha