Six years ago, while we were spending a stormy day at an Alabama coastal campground, I simply watched the rain and listened to the continuous thunder. Nature photography was my love at the time and I had no inkling then that, over the next year, I would also fall in love with haiku, a Japanese short form poetry which would greatly enhance my aging life.
thunder and lightning…
cuddled around the fireplace
an old man and his wife
Al W Gallia 08/07/21
The world has changed so much since then with social and political unrest, ongoing Covid pandemic, mask wearing, social isolation, and loss of family and friends. At our age, it is hard for my wife and me to adjust to this new stormy reality. But we are survivors and we have a strong faith and hope in our loving God and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. So we face the storm head-on without fear, staying focused on the Truth and Light. Blessings and peace, my friends.
It is the 2nd Lenten season during this worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, in which we are struggling to survive. Do we actually think that we can succeed, as ‘one nation under God’, without Him, by continuing to turn away from Him in our lives? I think not, as faith and prayer are the true way and God is the source of all love, goodness and hope.
Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the wasteland that enjoys no change of season, But stands in lava beds in the wilderness, a land, salty and uninhabited. Blessed are those who trust in the LORD; the LORD will be their trust. They are like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It does not fear heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still produces fruit. More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, explore the mind and test the heart, Giving to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their deeds.
Occasionally I run across an article that sparks meaningful thoughts in my mind. After a year of social distancing (actually self-imposed isolation), my wife and I begin the latter part of our lives, our eighties, amidst worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, family and friends illnesses and deaths, economic turmoil, and civil unrest. It would be so easy for me to just fade back into the woodwork, waiting for some change that may not come, and die a slow death of mental dullness watching TV movies. But that is not me or my wife! Creativity has always been a big part of our lives in many varied ways.
For me, nature photography and haiku poetry have been my creative interests for many years. I realize how important such activities are for mental exercise and personal enjoyment. I also realize that continued pursuit of these activities requires certain physical adjustments that aging requires. Such changes were, at first, hard to accept but prayer, meditation, and trust in a loving God always light the way.
One year into our Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, how the priorities of my life have changed! No longer do my wife and I plan fun shopping trips, cafe lunches, or casual visiting with family and friends. Add to that the stress of politics and the realities of turning 80, and we are now living in a new ‘normal’, maybe forever.
The one thing that makes our situation bearable is an unwavering FAITH in a loving, caring God, and the love and companionship we give each other! And one of the best ways to feel and hear Him is in the solitude and beauty of nature, where no words are needed but only awareness.
Along the road at nearby Lake Martin on a warm spring morning, I see a decaying stump spotlighted in a sun beam. Around this old stump, a new creeper vine spirals upward toward the light, grasping tightly to the dead wood where it can for support. I remember my father’s smile. Life rises from death and will not be denied!
The old man, soon to be 80 years old, awakens on a Tuesday morning as he always does. He lies quietly in bed, listening to his wife’s soft breathing, and thanks God for this new day, her untroubled sleep, and their continuing health. Glancing at the sunlight on the sheer curtains, he sees promise of another typical hot summer day. But he also happily notes that days are finally growing a bit shorter now.
Wincing at a twinge of arthritic hip pain, he silently crawls out of bed, puts on his slippers, and eases down the long hall to the kitchen. The house is soundless as it always is each morning, except for a faint lawnmower. In a few minutes he holds a steaming cup of coffee in his hands, thankful for the modern ingenuity of his trusty K-cup coffee machine. After opening the sunroom and living room drapes, the old man moves to his favorite glider chair and sits to relish his coffee, meditate and pray, and consider the new day ahead.
In the stillness, he becomes aware of the endless ticking of the old wall clock, a sound that has become quite familiar and, perhaps, even friendly for the last six months. It has been that long since the old man and his wife of fifty plus years decided to self-quarantine themselves against the deadly coronavirus mercilessly ravaging the whole world. If it was solitude they wanted, they have it now in abundance! But he also thinks how blessed they and their family have been so far and gratefully thanks God again. Next, reflecting on the day ahead, he accepts the inevitable again: that this day will be much like all the other ‘pandemic’ yesterdays. It is like being in a submarine, he smiles, with the hatch closed and afraid to open it! Reciting the Serenity Prayer, he then takes a savoring sip of coffee, inhales the wafting aroma, and opens his daily haiku notebook…