He just came in to say hi. Every morning, at least when I am sitting at my desk, Hermes comes in to the office, makes a tiny little purr-like squeak, and walks over to my chair, where it is expected that I will stop whatever I am doing, and scratch his head and back – for a while. This comes after – every morning – that he somehow has to make sure Cheri is up way too early by walking all over her until she stirs. He and the others then follow her out to the kitchen, where there is a hoped-for treat, or at least fresh food to start the day long before dawn. While Thor, our skinny Siamese, has to then crawl onto Cheri’s lap while she is working at her computer, Hermes instead takes stock of the house, usually ending up sprawled on the living room carpet. He doesn’t really go back to sleep – it’s more just sitting/lying there, letting time go by. Of course, he and his brother, around 6:30am, start getting fidgety and waiting at the top of the basement stairs, until somehow they hear Adam stirring in his bedroom. Often they will trot on down, and stare at him until he makes a move to come upstairs. You see, when that happens, then treat #2 for the day occurs, and they each get a little dab of cream cheese. This was Adam’s big mistake about two months ago, and now he is stuck with that morning exercise.
After they are done with that, it’s back to the food dishes and the water dishes, and then it’s back to quietly lying in the living room, waiting for the warm sun to start beaming in and roasting them. However, for some reason, a little after 8:30, when I am at my desk, Hermes has to come in and get his morning scratch, look around at a room that hardly ever changes, and when satisfied with his security check and he has been fully scratched, at least for this part of the morning, he quietly turns around and leaves. That’s all – he will then go out to the couch or to the bed, or even to a silly little box that we have to now keep in the dining room for him to crawl in, and look like he is a poor, homeless box-cat. Thor, on the other hand, after cream cheese, goes directly to his rocking chair (I don’t think anyone else has sat in it for over five years now), curls up and takes his first marathon nap of the day. Phoenix can be found in a laundry basket in our walk-in closet, next to the heater vent, nestled in among the never-worn bathrobes of the past.
Now, we never taught them to do these things. It is completely, 100% of their own devices, but they are as consistent as the sun coming up in the morning. In fact, we have come to know when/if something is wrong, when the patterns are broken at all! They say cats sleep between 80% and 95% of a day, and ours are no strangers to that requirement. Except that at 8:30, and if I’m still working at the desk at around 2pm, Hermes comes to check to make sure things are running smoothly – and then back to sleep.
Now, we will tend to chuckle a bit at the patterns of animals in our lives, as they seem so deeply engrained into their existence, but you and I both know that it only takes a moment to examine our own lives, for us to find the near-rigid, almost never wavering habits and designs we follow. I remember Mom saying how she missed, just before bed, to hear my dad brushing his teeth, and ending with three taps of the toothbrush to knock off any left water on the bristles. Not four times – not two – precisely three, and he was done.
I know, in my case, with the pandemic, and often living out the same days, or nearly the same for weeks at a time, that I have plenty of things that I do, that I no longer even think about. I can wake up, take care of bathroom things, walk out to the kitchen, pour a cup of coffee, and then sit down with my phone and iPad to check on the news and weather without even remembering that I did it at all. I would expect you have your habits as well, and they make for a simply comfortable and predictable living out of most of our days. In fact, in those times (rarer as of late) when something else is on our plate, or we have a first thing in the morning special trip or task or such, it’s amazing how possible it is to get a bit out of sync for the better part of the day! Now, when I was traveling quite a bit, the “first things” were way shorter than when I have time to linger with the start of my morning. Now, however, like I said, the patterns carry me, and put a framework around what I do, like Hermes doing the walkthrough at 8:30.
Much of that is just fine, of course, since I tend to believe that without some pattern to our lives, we probably would slide into either a paranoia, or some other form of insanity, since with no structure, all we have is randomness. However, let’s be clear: if all we do is the same thing unendingly, then it’s probably time to start asking some important questions, like, “Am I truly satisfied with this existence?” “Have I lost my ability to be creative, and perhaps do a new thing?” “Am I driven by boredom, or fear, or laziness?” “What else might I do with my life?”
Even in simply asking those questions, we open our front lobes of our brains to some new unexplored rooms. We move from accidental in everything, to perhaps a modicum of intentional, at least to begin with. I believe that is not only healthier, but necessary for us to live abundant lives, and lives that are significant and meaningful.
So enjoy that cup of coffee in “your” chair, and blow your nose the same way, and check the weather in whatever way you do that. But don’t do only that – do more, and be more, and think more intentionally… I believe when we do that, we begin to live in a more powerful way, even during the age of Covid…
Word for the day: yird. Pronounced Yeerd. Many of our words that today begin with “y” have their roots in Northern England or Scottish language. Today’s word is no different, although it can go many different ways. The word originally meant “soil, or topsoil.” It was dirt, but one version from the Scottish word gard, from which we have gard-en, was the patch of ground around the house. It doesn’t take much to then move from gard to yird – to yard. The word also means “to bury, or inter.” No matter what, it all comes back to dirt, doesn’t it. However, another version takes us first to an Old Saxon word, gierd, which is a measure of length. It originally meant a rod/staff/stick which was used to make a fairly uniform measurement. It was first a length of about 5 meters – a rod. However, later on, it became three feet, or what we call a “yard.” A yard stick doesn’t measure dirt, or even your yard, but it belongs to us anyway. Make sure you yird your plant roots in your yird, but don’t go a yird underground – or is it under-yird?
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.