-- by Mike Murray
For me, the end of the day is a time for quiet reflection. During the wee hours, I contemplate; I think about those who are precious to me. The ones who nurture, support, and care for me. The ones who stand by me through thick and thin. The ones who make bearable all of the nonsense that each of us daily encounters.
I think about how very fortunate I am to have them in my life.
I also think about people who don’t know such good fortune. People who lack the comfort of even one special friend. People who go to sleep alone – and who wake up that way, too. People who yearn for someone recently or long-ago lost to them, or for a companion who never arrived at all.
I wish for those lonely souls the comfort that I know.
Also in my thoughts are those who suffer in still harsher ways. People and animals whose most basic needs are not being met. Those who lack safety from physical harm, shelter from the elements, food to eat. Things that I am lucky enough to be able to take for granted. It shames me that I sometimes complain about minor irritations in the face of such suffering.
I have so much to be thankful for. There are many pleasures in my life. Winter is a season that I welcome. As each year winds down and the Sun scribes smaller and smaller arcs against the sky, my spirits soar. A snowfall is for me a glorious event, something to be savored.
But for those who live under no proper roof, a severe drop in temperature and a substantial accumulation of snow herald discomfort and danger. For people who crouch inside cardboard boxes and for animals who huddle beneath dumpsters, winter is no wonderland.
I reflect on such unpleasantries during quiet hours, and I feel for those who endure so much. And I am humbled by those who suffer alongside them – those dedicated caregivers who (without fanfare) work devoutly to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. They give much of themselves to others; they take no credit for it.
And I ask myself: am I really doing all that I can to help? Being thoroughly human, I rationalize. I tell myself that I am doing my part. But deep inside, doubt lingers. I know that’s not completely true. I can, and should, do more.
In the town where I live, a contentious political season draws to a close. Mercifully so. Battle lines were drawn and political war was intensely waged for months. In a very short while, there will be winners and there will be losers.
I care as much as some and more than most about election outcomes. Because that is so, I exercised my free-speech right and spoke out. I argued in favor of some candidates, against others. I used the vehicle that is my website as a platform for communicating with the electorate. (A portion of it that frequents the Internet, anyway.)
I believe that the proper governance of any town is a serious consideration for all of its residents. And so I think it appropriate that citizens here in Berea engaged vigorously in the process. I hope a high percentage of them show up at the polls on Election Day and exercise their most important of rights.
But I am also happy to see all of this come to an end. I welcome the opportunity to turn my attention to other matters. Matters that I have lately neglected.
On chilly winter nights, there are for me no more cherished moments than those spent watching precious companions peacefully sleep. Their angelic slumbers remind me just how blessed I am, how fortunate I am to have dear ones in my life. And they also remind me that, for all the trials and tribulations of routine existence, life is for most of us pretty good.
It is comforting to consider that. But it is also disturbing to ponder other realities. The disquieting truth is that life is for some (here in the U.S. and around the globe) nothing short of brutal. Reminding ourselves of our many blessings, being fully grateful for them, is appropriate. So is acknowledging the desperate needs of the less fortunate.
At each day’s end, I reflect on what is good in my life. And I contemplate what is not in others’.
Copyright © 2007 Michael F. Murray -- All rights reserved.