It’s another routine morning. My alarm sounds at 5 a.m. I rise toward clarity. Prayer and devotion follow. The newspapers hit my steps at 6. I sit down to write. Tomorrow, if tomorrow comes, I will do it again. Most mornings rut this way and I sense peace. But at this moment, life lives me. Interruptions and distractions reign. Only the appearance of living an intentional life expresses itself amid my anxiety. My calendar is full not by my design.
How hard it is to engage the intentional life when all about clamors for time and attention. But “all about,” the soil for a contemplative and intentional life, remains touchable and ungrasped. It seems everyone moves without thought, within an expectation to pursue today’s fashion, within a pride that postpones thinking deeply. And when so deterred, how do we become intentional about life? How do we sever fashion’s hold and its accompanying pride to engage today with purpose? With what do we fill our life?
When it is framed as satisfaction and delight, pride in almost anything is acceptable, and may even be counted as joy. But when it turns to self, when it says, “I am better than,” when it sees only “me,” pride becomes every sin’s beginning, every vanity’s wish, every generation’s fashion. Even humility taints pride when it enters into comparison. As life lives me now, God allows me more than a possibility my frustration is embedded in this uprising pride. Though each detour is soil for his kingdom, I just don’t want to be bothered. That’s pride.
How could I ever realize this truth but by the very constraint these distractions impose and the counsel from friends who, walking beside me, peer into the same distance, see what I see, then honestly tell me what I failed to perceive?
A mistake is often made which says a full calendar is a full life. Sometimes this outward life reflects one’s inner life, the fruit of the spirit. Other times this outward life is purposed and positioned to portray but an image, a trickster desiring gain.
Real life is friendship. It’s one that testifies, infects relationships with deeper meaning, reveals purpose and good intent beyond the calendar, one that is undeterred by changing landscapes, pride, frustrations and interruptions. Tangible, enduring, overcoming, suffering, syncopated and synchronized, silent and understood, and yes, honest all describe relationships that ferret away the trivial from everything in life, leaving nothing but true friendship.
And each day rising, life whittles its own routine, its own random, distracting determination that carves its story and etches an ending it does not yet know. And I play my part in this story, unable to see the whole, subject to the carver’s hand, guided by friends who know my part and place and purpose better than I.
And each life rising, rises toward clarity.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).
Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.