Our cat Wyatt starts shrieking at our bedroom door at first light, a very aggravating start to my day. On my way to Augusta, I get irritated when a driver darts out in front of me, refusing to yield as required by law. It seems to me that few drivers yield these days — everyone’s in a hurry, I guess.
My Subaru Forester is a mess, but when I turn into Charlie’s for my free car wash, the long line discourages me, so I drive out, dirty. When I get to Hallowell for a breakfast meeting at Slates, all the parking spots in front of the restaurant are full. It’s a bad day, for sure.
Eventually, I get to the State House, where the governor called legislators corrupt, Republicans in the Senate are feuding with Republicans in the House, and Democrats are criticizing all of them. Now, discouragement is added to my irritation.
Last night I tried to watch a Republican presidential candidate debate and turned off the TV after half an hour, unable to stand the ugliness. The level of intolerance, from Maine to Washington, D.C., and beyond, is appalling. Aren’t these candidates supposed to inspire us? They just sicken me. OK, so now I’m irritated, discouraged and sickened. I need help!
Sitting there in my “office” on a third-floor couch in the State House, between the dysfunctional Senate and House, I reach into my pocket and pull out a smooth black stone, gathered years ago on the rocky shore in front of the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec, where my great-grandfather kept the light for 32 years. I carry the rock to remind me of my mom, who grew up in Lubec, and to center me back in that beautiful spot, sitting on the rocks, gazing out at the ocean. Peaceful. Serene.
Suddenly, I am much calmer. And I start thinking about all the ways my life is blessed, putting all those minor irritations and disappointments aside. Life is good. Very good. Really.
All of these things, the howling cat, the bad drivers, the dirty car, the ugliness at the State House — even the Presidential candidates — are not all that important in my life. Really.
Yes, I know one of these idiots (oops, didn’t mean to fall back into irritation) will be president. I’m still sorting through the list to find someone to inspire me — or at least someone in my Republican political party I can support.
When I wrote a column a while back listing my Republican heroes — Teddy Roosevelt, Margaret Chase Smith and Marion Fuller Brown — a reader reminded me that my heroes are all dead. Well, yes, there is that. Boy, do we need some inspiration in this presidential race!
After turning off the Republican presidential debate the other night, I stepped outside and stared into the sky, full of stars. Did you know that there are at least 100 billion stars out there, and maybe as many as 400 billion. We can only see about 6,000 of them from earth. And there are about 200 galaxies too.
Thinking about this and staring out into this vast universe is another way I put things into perspective. The things that irritate me are so very, very minor, when you consider the universe we live in and our place in it.
At our United Methodist Church in Readfield, we are striving to step outside our comfort zone in a process called Shift, moving us from membership in the church to discipleship in and outside the church. This requires much more activism in our community, loving and serving our neighbors, as well as sharing our faith with others.
This sharing business is uncomfortable for many of us. I can only wonder what would happen if, some morning at the Legislature, I started sharing my faith with legislators as they trooped by me.
The Shift project encourages us to “move beyond missional gestures (which do good and make us feel good) to find at least one ministry of engagement where we not only provide resources for those with specific needs, but we also have direct contact with those being served, with a specific focus on developing relationships.”
That would be humbling, I think. But maybe inspiring too — especially given that my life is so good. So very good. Really.
Go ahead Wyatt. Howl anytime you want.