Categorized | Light Lines

Ponder, accept God’s changes to your plan

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

I did not expect to spend all of Hanukkah at home this year. I’d planned to give up a good chunk of it during a week’s travel in Peru — from Lima to Cuzco, and finally to the two places I’d longed almost all my life to see: the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.
But you surely know that old saying: “Man proposes, and God disposes.” Or sometimes God just laughs at our presumptuousness. I was here for all of the eight nights after all, “thanks” to a small washing machine break that sent a flood of water to come up from beneath my teak parquet floors. This happened the night before my scheduled early morning departure; I was all packed and ready to go, and heading up to bed, having first kicked off my shoes to wiggle my toes and walk along in my bare feet…
Sometimes God himself proposes: Had I still been wearing shoes, I would not have felt that early, first dampness! I pressed on the wood, and the water rose up. And I got on the phone to find some emergency help. But it was well after midnight, and no plumber would be available until the next morning — some time after my scheduled airport pickup at 8:30 a.m. A sad goodbye to my travel dream …
I don’t tell you this because I’m looking for sympathy, which I’m not. Rather, I’m sharing my feeling — once again — that there are no coincidences of importance in our lives: There are “only” times when God wants something to happen, but would prefer to remain anonymous, so we encounter them in different ways — as different as water under one’s bare feet …
I canceled my trip, and I doubt I’ll reschedule it. I’ve long since lost the physical ability to climb the heights of Machu Picchu, and was grateful just for the opportunity to see it — if somewhat from afar. But my walking is compromised as well by my multiply-broken left leg, and the longer I put things off, the less likely I will be able to do them at all. This trip — although I was sad that it would cost me much of Hanukkah at home — offered the best weather in Peru, which is summer when it is winter here. Another year would be a long time away…
Combined with what I truly believe was God’s desire for me not to go is my father’s well-taught and well-learned lesson: Take whatever life hands you, and do the best you can with it. So I was able to attend a number of holiday events I would have otherwise missed. And then, there is this, which I write about last, but is first in importance: My dear cousin Pat, who has lived here in Dallas for the last five years, died on one of the days I was scheduled to be away, and so I could be present for her funeral service, and for the shivas. I saw this as a present from God…
Have you ever watched the candles in your menorahs as they burned down to their very, very ends? If you’ve never done so, tuck this away in your mind for something to experience next year: As each flame dies, it burns lower and lower, then sends up a final burst of brightness immediately before it gutters out completely. Humans are sometimes like that, with a person showing a quick crescendo of life with that very last breath before that candle of mortality finishes its burning. Many years ago, I was at the bedside of an aunt at that moment. My parents had taken me to say goodbye, not knowing, of course, that we would witness her final, bright goodbye to us all.
So much we do not know: when a trip must be abandoned, or when a life must end. But I believe God knows, and has reasons for us to perhaps ponder, but definitely accept…

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