The Last Hour

photo by Josh Scholten

Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
~Jonathan Edwards

The first few weekends of any university’s fall semester is fraught with risk.  It is a time when freshmen, in particular, participate in age-old college rituals that take some to the emergency room and result in a few lying in the morgue.  There is sometimes an attitude of tossing care and good judgement to the wind.  Leaving home and being on one’s own means the freedom to do what one wants, when one wants, until the moment when payment comes due.

The national headlines in autumn over the last few years have shouted in large font about toxic reactions at parties serving Four Loko, about students gone missing, about fatal falls off overloaded balconies, and this week about the devastating effects of alcohol enemas.  There never seems to be an end to ways students can experiment with stretching and possibly breaking the slender thread between life and death, in the name of fun and games.

A helpful rule of thumb has always been what our grandmothers said:  “Don’t ever do anything you’d be embarrassed to see on the front page of the newspaper.”

In this day and age of social media, as newspapers become less relevant, the new rule of thumb should be: “Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to see on FaceBook, YouTube or going viral in a matter of hours.”  Unfortunately, in the twisted way modern society works for some, that is all the more incentive.

Jonathan Edwards, writing almost 300 years ago, had it right.  We need to live each hour as if it were our last, considering what that hour might mean for eternity.

Unruffled Calm

photo by Josh Scholten

Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of nature that overawes our little anxieties and doubts: the sight of the deep-blue sky, and the clustering stars above seem to impart a quiet to the mind.
Jonathan Edwards

During times like the last couple weeks,  nature has certainly been less than calm (wildfires, windstorms, drought, overbearing heat, flooding).  Anxiety and worry seems an appropriate response in the face of such tragedy.

We have been spared in our part of the world, dealing only with unseasonably cool and wet weather, disrupting the growing season and hay harvest.  Our anxieties, ever present nevertheless,  are quite little compared to those elsewhere who have lost family members, their homes and all their belongings.

Even with that point of view, anxiety and doubt can take root like a weed in a garden patch– overwhelming, crowding out and impairing plants trying to be fruitful.  The result is nothing of value grows–only unchecked proliferation of more weeds.

I need reminding to keep my anxiousness winnowed out.  I don’t need a large scale natural disaster as impetus.  I simply need to look up at the sky to know: I am not God and never will be.  My worry helps no one, changes nothing,  only hinders me from being fruitful.

Reaching for the unruffled calm overawes, imparting quiet to the mind, taking a deep breath and knowing He is in control.