There is an old Nietzsche proverb that says, "When you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."
For the last month I have been gazing far into the significant life changes happening around me. A close and dear friend has passed away unexpectedly, another has been given news of failing health and the need to move to accommodate new life expectancies, and then there is the significant palliative decline of my stepdad who is slowly dying in hospital of unexplained reasons. I too, have been through significant health changes in recent times as I get older in my state of quadriplegia of 23 years.
What am I suppose to see as I gaze into the crumblings of the world around me? Where am I too turn as I consider the realities that life is changing? How am I to look into the future as I plan the next steps for life's journey?
The Hebrew Psalmist was also well aquatinted to the inevitabilities of change in life, along with the struggles and pains they could sometimes bring. I think of the one ancient poem that says:
I recited this psalm to my ailing stepdad last week while holding his hand and comforting him. The prophetic voice inside of me expanded the imaginative realities of this picture as I shared with him a vision that was forming. Speaking openly I said, "Dad, it's hard for us to fathom the possibilities of what lies beneath the surface of the glistening sea as we stare into its shimmering waters. We can only imagine what is happening below in the mysterious depths of its ebbs and flows. And yet, while we witness the mountains crumbling around us into those foaming waves and roaring seas, beneath is a creative wonder that is birthing new worlds and new environments of life and wonders we have yet to encounter and explore."
Driving home that day with my wife, I couldn't help but reflect on that conversation with my stepdad. I remembered an old sufi mystic's poem from a Winifred Gallagher book I read several years ago, called 'Working On God'. It said:
It is an inevitability that life will always change around us but, if we are willing to embrace those changes freely, submitting ourselves to the relational transformations of a story being told that is greater then ourselves, we will discover and come to know an identity that is nothing less then the very reflection, or image of God that creation is always drawing us towards. But until that end is revealed, I suppose I will follow the wisdom of the God to the ancient Psalmist we met earlier: