Monday, February 28, 2011

My grandson Chris lost a tooth this weekend. He's at that age where it happens with some frequency. In fact he also celebrated his seventh birthday this weekend. Somehow, in its own odd way, that's reassuring. The situation in North Africa is changing daily, it is almost impossible to keep up with advances in technology, social mores are ever vacillating--change is all around us--all the time! But little boys (and girls) still lose their teeth and celebrate their birthdays.

I'm not opposed to change--I'm no Luddite! In fact, I have often promoted change. Societal change, ecclesiastical change, personal change. But sometimes I get a bit weary of constantly adjusting to things that are new, things that are different. Sometimes I long for "the good old days" when life crawled along like Sanibel traffic in the winter! But that, of course, is a false memory. There was plenty of change in "the good old days" as well! And life could be as hectic in the fifties and sixties as it is today.

No, the secret isn't to be found in going back in time. The secret is to be found in learning to accept life on life's terms. The secret is to be found in celebrating the little things, like lost teeth and a grandson's birthday, and recognizing that there are some constants in life if we will simply pay closer attention!

None of this is particularly profound. But truth is not dependent on profundity! In fact, truth sometimes is pretty basic, even simple. And the truth is that change happens, all the time. And in reality, even lost teeth and birthdays represent change. But such is life. Such is life.
(Photo Credit: Alycia Davis)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

High season is upon us here on Sanibel! Folks from the north, weary of the hard winter, have come south in droves for a bit of respite! Roads are clogged, restaurants filled beyond capacity, and many a resident's spare room is being used by friends or family from colder climes.

We've had such guests this week. An old buddy of mine who I've known since third grade and his wife are here for a few days, soaking up the sun and warmth. On Monday we all went to "Ding" Darling and took the tram tour of the wildlife refuge. We saw all manner of birds, learned about mangroves, saw some mating hermit crabs and even caught a glimpse of an alligator.

As we got underway, our very knowledgeable guide informed us that we should conduct ourselves as "intelligent, ethical ecotourists." She impressed on us the importance of respecting the refuge, taking nothing with us, and leaving nothing behind.

I've been thinking about what it means to be an intelligent, ethical ecotourist. And the thought crossed my mind that it was a phrase that could provide guidance for our everyday lives as well. What does it mean to be intelligent and ethical in our conduct as inhabitants on planet earth? A tourist comes and looks and then goes home again. My buddy and his wife will go back home later this week. But a resident lives his or her life in a particular place. I'm not going anywhere. Neither are the other 6,000 or so folks who live here year round. How much better it would be if we were constantly aware of the environment around us, if we were to live as intelligent, ethical ecoresidents?

One of the last things the guide suggested as we finished our tour was that folks visit and support the wildlife refuges in their own parts of the country. It was a good reminder that ecology isn't just for tourists--its for all of us! And ultimately, none of us are really ecotourists, rather, we must be ecoresidents. Intelligent, ethical, ecoresidents.

Monday, February 14, 2011

So many times over the last week we heard the phrase, "we are watching history in the making." And certainly, in terms of the situation in Egypt we are. It is nothing short of inspiring to witness the peaceful transition of power that is happening in that ancient country! While the future there remains to be seen, for now, it is well worth celebrating. Common men and women have brought about real change without resorting to violence. It is history in the making!

But while I join with so many others in celebrating this turn of events, and realize its historical significance, I bristle a bit at the whole notion of "history in the making," for the reality is we are all making history every single day. The things you and I may do and say, while seemingly unimportant form a global perspective, shape the future. Our words and actions are the foundation upon which future generations will build their version of the world. We will be their history!

So, with that in mind, what can we learn from these past days in Egypt? And how can we apply those lessons to our own lives? For the truth is, if we want a world free of violence, it needs to start at home. It needs to start with each one of us foregoing the little acts of violence that fill so many of our days: cursing at fellow drivers; berating our children, our friends, our spouses and partners, walking over somebody else to get ahead at work or school. To eliminate violence in our world may indeed take more than all that, but it will certainly not take any less!

Long before the recent events in Egypt Mohandas Gandhi led a peaceful revolt in India. I've quoted his words before, but they have never seemed more appropriate than right now: "Be the change you want to see in the world." Look at the violence in your own life--in the words, the attitudes, the actions--and then make your own history!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Every once in a while someone will ask me if I miss the snow. And I usually pause to think about it. I don't miss the postponed meetings. I don't miss the canceled worship services. I don't miss the wet shoes and salt-rimed pant cuffs. And I certainly don't miss the constant shoveling. No, at one level, I don't miss snow a bit. Not one bit.

But that said, I do kind of miss sitting in a comfy recliner, covered by an afghan, listening to good music and reading a book while the flakes pile up out my window. A snow day occasionally provided an opportunity to simply slow down and enjoy life. And that's something I've never done very well. I tend to cram as much into the day as I possibly can, often running from one duty to the next. Snow days, while full of inconveniences, gave me an excuse that everybody understood to take a break from my busyness.

Now it could be argued that I could just as easily do that here on Sanibel. Just substitute the comfy recliner with a beach chair, turn the afghan into sunscreen, plug in my iPod, and open up a book and voila! All the ingredients for a snow day, Florida style. But somehow it's just not the same (as wonderful as it is!) Don't misunderstand--I'm not booking any flights to New England any time soon! And the pluses of living on this beautiful island far outweigh the pleasures of a snow day or two each year.

Not that there aren't reminders of the importance of changing pace here as well. My favorite such reminder comes in the form of the many road signs that dot Sanibel that read "Slow Down for Gopher Tortoises." Now if that isn't a double message I don't know what is! So maybe, instead of watching for storm clouds, I should be watching for turtles! Maybe that would work!

Do I miss the snow? No, not really. Just the snow days.
(Photo Credit: Elizabeth Danner--my New England based daughter!)