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A Lack Of Earning Potential

September 22, 2021

Three months ago, friends, who moved to New England to be near us, joined us for perhaps our millionth dinner together.

“Your begonias are out of control!” My dear friend noted, herself a great killer of plants.

“It’s a strange year” I replied.

And it was. The tomatoes that delivered unending salads last year were oddly colored, shaped and infested with some ailment that split their skins before ripening. One new rhododendron was fully enraptured at its new setting, the other died a silent and sad death. The grass seed, planted 38 years ago, loves being mowed every 3 weeks, rather than two (I have been busy).

The full frontal assault of an insane acorn crop from our 260 year old white oak has bombarded our house, causing PTSD damage to my wife’s psyche as she works under a large skylight that magnifies the barrage into a drum solo.

Despite all efforts, life is not under our control. Even if it was, no amount of hope, promise or expertise earned the life that is, in fact, fully out of control all around us. Billions get vaccinated, huge human behaviors modified and the Covid Virus is having as good a year as my begonias.

But explosive growth is only one uncontrollable in the windows to our incapacity.

Our dear begonia loving friend, who settled here to join us for 30 years of dinners, went to play tennis. Her life of mental and physical fitness was a model for me – my own BMI and thought production fully wanting.

In the delight of a pickup tennis doubles match, our friend had a aortic dissection. Part of the pathways taking most of her blood simply broke. No one could have scanned it, no lifestyle change could have prevented it, no cure exists when it happens outside a hospital.

The lack of control was fully realized in minutes.

My car simply stopped going faster than 15 miles per hour last week. Humans made that car. I am one of them, and know others that can control the car. In a week, one of its central powering parts, one of four pistons was reconstituted. Humans had made the piston, humans could fix the piston.

We did not make us. We do not understand how or why why or even what we are, but we are as real as any car, or begonia, or aortic dissection.

I want to earn the fruits of my efforts. I want to get what I want, not as a gift, but as a transaction. My effort leverages my desires. But I cannot earn life.

Life is the last fully inscrutable gift that defies control. The least of us can last for a century, the boldest athlete can cease to live in a second. We are the same in our incapacity. We are here, like my car, and we want to do more than eat acorns and sleep. So we play tennis, ride our cars, plant our tomatoes.

But what we start, we do not finish.

Because we only start our actions, and finish those, because that is what we have been given the capacity to do. I wish that there was a human-based alternative to God. I wish Jesus was a great scientist who created life for his fellow humans, and we could codify and expand his human insights and production.

No, Jesus knew that we, He, created only his acts. The engine of His, and our, acts are not those found in cars, but they are engines. Of insane complexity, with zero rationale, just here, now. And then not here.

God is not a mechanic that fixes our engines. We, the engines He created, just need to know that we have been given this. We are not owed a thing, even the things that we lose. I cannot understand how my car was repaired but I could learn it, fix cars and control the things humans make. I cannot know how my friend slipped out of life, beyond the trenchant Dr. Internet distillations of the mechanics, but I can understand that I cannot understand.

Having faith in meanings we cannot define is simply not me. I want to know the whys and meanings of all these acorns and split tomatoes, I am confident that I could fully research and feel comfy that I know the ephemeral causalities of those things, and Covid19, but it is unknowable why all of life has been given.

And why it ends.

I am left, again, with the God that never leaves, like a bad house guest. I would like to have the pat comfort of earning my definition of the undefined, but no, I do not have that earning capacity.

Sent from my iPad

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