Oh, to discover again the beauty of what is near
There is much of fretfulness in life, of discontent, remembering often what we want, forgetting often what we have, and letting precious things become commonplace. We all go through these periods perhaps, getting lost in routine, in the trivia, sometimes in a social circuit; sometimes overworking at work, sometimes overworking at play; sometimes overloading ourselves with things that don’t mean much—only to find that they can become a burden. And we sometimes find ourselves restlessly running. “Is it not marvellous how far afield some of us are willing to travel,” wrote David Grayson, “in pursuit of that beauty which we leave behind us at home? We mistake unfamiliarity for beauty. … I have only to come up through my thicket or cross my field from my own roadside—and behold, a new heaven and a new earth! Things grow old and stale, not because they are old, but because we cease to see them … a tree at our gate … a flower in our dooryard. … Vibrant significant worlds around us disappear within the … mists of familiarity. … [Oh] to see and feel and hear things newly … to discover again the beauty of the near …” 1 —with a little more perspective, a little more appreciation of clean things, of honest people, of health, of wholesomeness, of life, of loved ones; a little more appreciation of the simple essentials, as we come at last to understand—with more kindness and compassion, more gratitude for what we have, more simple honest sincerity, perhaps somewhat as James Whitcomb Riley said in his “Prayer Perfect”:
David Grayson, Adventures in Friendship, Ch. 3.
Reliable once in awhile
There is a thought from Confucious that touches upon the point of many personal and public problems. “A man who lacks reliability is utterly useless,” he said. In this there is much of what is wrong with the relationships of man to man—not being reliable, not being able to count on people to perform their part, to do what they say they will do when it needs to be done. And so disappointments and disillusionment occur from day to day. Someone says he’ll have something ready at a certain time, and it just isn’t ready. Someone borrows and says he’ll pay back or bring it back at a certain time, and it just isn’t paid back or brought back. Someone signs a contract and agrees to perform certain services, and just doesn’t do it. The list could be endlessly lengthened. Often there are unavoidable reasons, but sometimes it is lack of reliability—and in some situations this could become not only frustrating but frightening. All this could perhaps be compared to a parachute that opens only part of the time, or to brakes on a car that can’t be counted on consistently. It isn’t enough to be reliable once in awhile. Irreplaceable things can be destroyed, thefts committed, irreparable damage done to property, to people, to reputations, to some of the most precious things in life, if a person can’t be counted on. So many examples could be given of this lack of reliability—the uncertainty of not knowing what or who can or cannot be counted on—like a faulty net beneath a trapeze performer. Suppose we couldn’t count on the promises of God. Suppose the astronauts in orbit couldn’t count on the calculations that others have made, or couldn’t count on the universe being run reliably. Suppose we couldn’t count on the tides, or the sun, or the seasons. It isn’t the hit-and-miss performance that makes life possible, but the degree of reliability, dependability, honesty, consistency that can be counted on. “A man who lacks reliability is utterly useless.”