Moving Forward

  • Posted on May 17, 2009

Moving Forward

Sing to the Lord a new song*for he has done marvelous things. Psalm 98:1

When we are trying to find meaning as we move forward from one day to the next, we often spend a good deal of energy in the past. We think of decisions that we wish we had made differently or with more forethought. I’m sure the disciples had a good deal of these kind of thoughts after Jesus’ death and resurrection. There is a great song in Jesus Christ Superstar entitled “Could We Start Again Please?” That song could be a mantra for many of us.

For years, when asked about my college experience, I would start off by saying that I attended Davidson College. If the conversation continued, I would then add that my first choice of college had been Williams College. Then I would launch into a discussion about how I had applied to Williams early decision and had not been accepted. I then added that I hadn’t taken the application seriously, that I had written it in longhand in cartridge pen. Yada..Yada..Yada.. On and on I would go about how I had made mistakes in my application. I would wonder what my life would have been like if I’d been a college student in the northeast.

Not long into the conversation, my good husband would interject that I would never have met him if I had gone to another college. For a while, I would try to argue that I would have met him eventually. After a while, I gave up that line of argument. My experience at Davidson was a wonderful experience in many ways. Why did I spend a good ten years of my life unable to recognize this fact? Why focus on the road not taken?

This morning, I started the sermon with a poem by Carl Dennis called “The God Who Loves You.” The poem is in his collection called Practical Gods. I won’t quote the whole poem here but here are some pertinent lines:

It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you’d be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings
Driving home from the office, content with your week—
Three fine houses sold to deserving families–
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened
Had you gone to your second choice for college,
Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion
A life thirty points above the life you’re living
On any scale of satisfaction…….
The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight
And write him about the life you can talk about
With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed,
Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.
Who is that friend that you actually know that it’s time to write? That’s a way to move forward into the future.
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