Not sure just where it came from – my wonderful mother, i think – but i’ve always tried to keep an optimistic outlook on everything, to see the good in
everyone, however horrid some may appear, to greet and to close each day with a grateful heart.
But i would be a deceiver, if i didn’t confess that there are days when the sun is rising outside my window, and i am doing anything but shining. It’s difficult to even lift my head off the pillow. i feel “run over by life,” i.e. the past and future of it, countless regrets, guilt, disappointments, worries and fears. It is so easy to focus on them in their multitude rather than on the one and only thing in front of my face – TODAY! The Moment!
The image that quickly comes to mind, when i’m feeling so down, is that of so many a kite i saw crashing in a park or on a sandy beach. Life is so much like kite-flying, myself the kite. Everybody knows how hard it can be to Catch the Wind and Ride It. One thing is Absolutely Certain: i cannot do it on my own. i can make it alone in life just as easily as a kite can!
Three ingredients are necessary: the Wind, some string, and a tugger.
The Bible’s word for the Spirit of God is RUACH, which really means WIND.
He is out there for sure, though Invisible and at some times so calm that i can barely feel His Presence. It is then that i rely on the certainty of His Love in my wife and family. They are the steadiest breeze that raises me. (And of course THEY include my ever-worshiping dog, Rudy, who would never let me stay down!) Despite my every fault and failing, they remind me that i can FLY! And there are “extended family” who blow a constant uplifting breeze my way every day. All the way from the Windy City, Chicago, the wonderful poet, Jim Littwin and his wife, Carol, channel affirmations galore which go under my tired wings and make me soar.
And Strings! Strings stretch literally around the world – to Fr. Cantalamessa in a hermitage in Italy, from which he sends me so much encouragement and HOPE. Strings stretch to Fr. Ichabod in the MiddleEast, Fr. Henry Liguori in Las Vegas, and Bishop John Corriveau in British Columbia. There is Anthony Luongo in Hollywood, Florida, and Gerry Straub in Hollywood, California, Bob Waldron in Boston and Sr. Dolores in San Francisco! Only to name a tiny few who tug the strings, strings from the four corners and way beyond, strings that pull and say, “Hey, Mikie, you Knucklehead, it’s time to get up and fly.”
i have a dear friend, Tom Jordan, who works at Walmart. It is the last place he cares to work, and it can be quite disheartening for him. But, then, he tells me of moments, such as when one customer will watch another, who is obviously struggling at the very last thread of her life-string to feed her family…and all of a sudden that first customer will say, “Let me pay for all of her things as well!” The kindness of a human heart raises my buddy up, and then he sends that wind my way to lift me, to take me higher and higher. For a while Tom and i fly together! WOW! How Sweet It Is!
Actually, i never need any more lift than the Robinsons of Tallahassee. Many years ago my blondy bubbly niece, Valerie (we always called her “Cutiepatootie”), who was one of those Florida State cheerleaders that flies high in the air, touching the sky…was in a car crash, which left her pretty much paralyzed for life. But the 24/7 care of my brother, Timmy, his wife, Vivian, and their host of huggers and tuggers, is as constant as the constancy of God, whose very name is “AIR,” without which we are nothing. That constant love, though so far away from me, and the smiling faces of Valerie on my refrigerator, are more than enough to lift Uncle Michael from any slump or slumber. When the wind seems knocked-out of me, it is never long before their “in-spiration” comes – What a Word! It means “this sweet and heavenly breeze comes along, wraps around me, enters my being, fills my very heart and soul, and up…UP…UP goes the kite again!”
This is why, like a good Catholic boy, i will often speak of the Saints, both
of today and of yesteryear, and our holy Communion with them. The kite strings truly stretch everywhere, pulling us, “Come on, run with us, and fly even higher than you’ve ever flown before. You can do it, if you believe.”
Our Jewish Brethren have been celebrating their beautiful Feast of Sukkot this week, my favorite Jewish Feast. Many of them maintain the great custom of making a little hut on their property and going there to be alone with God. The purpose is simply to reflect and to pray – most of all, Remember – all the wonders God has done for them! Given them! Each of us has string stretching far and winds waiting to whisk us away. Each has huggers and tuggers wrapped around us. Maybe we don’t always let them pick us up? That part only we can play. Tagore used to say, “The Winds of Grace are always blowing, but you must bend your sails.” As a dog eagerly seeks the wind, his head always outside the car window, so may we…the Spirit of God!