Plans and Paths

From the desk of Lisa Veitenhans
March 11, 2020

Every year the ordinary time from January 1 until Ash Wednesday feels like time in-between the old stuff and new something-that-will-happen. I make plans and resolutions, think about the past, and wonder about spots neglected. Once all my thoughts have started to form into a plan of action and the fooling around of practice has been tried, Ash Wednesday arrives and calls me to stop and set it all aside. “Remember you are dust.” Everything waiting on the brink of movement, my last deep breath taken before plunging in, and the call comes to, “Wait. Pay attention to this.”

My Celtic reflection for Ash Wednesday offered an imaginative way of looking at the creation of human beings. Adam made not just of dust, but of all the elements of sea, sun, clouds, stone and even light, being the light of God within us – a way of reflecting His divine image. I felt connected deeply to the trees blowing outside the door, close clouds moving quickly in the sky, and the bright green of the grass. I nodded to my dog, stretched and went about the day.

The day had one primary event that I’d reflected much upon and made plans and resolutions regarding. The dog had to see a surgeon about his tricky knee. My beloved dog had suddenly developed a funny limp and after seeing his vet, he was going on to see a surgeon. I had plans in my head about cost, recovery and so forth.

“Do you mind if I take another x-ray?” he asked.

“Not at all,” my mind was still humming with how many days he’d need absolute rest after surgery and questions about whether or not it would interfere with other plans.

That all stopped suddenly when the surgeon came back in and sat close to me. “I’m sorry,” he said.

All my plans and resolutions halted abruptly and began to dissolve and blow away like dust. I got very still. A different and unexpected path opened. I turned to walk toward an undesired destination, accepting.

We sat on the floor at home, looking out over the world, my hand on his back, where we’ve sat many times. Clouds sailed past in the bright sky, the neighbors’ trees swaying in the gentle wind and I wondered about the morning’s reading, about the connectedness of God’s creation, made by the same hand, breathed to life by the same creativity. Kito will finish his life, as I will finish mine. It is part of life, dying. It seemed right to remember about the dust, to even begin to experience the pain of it, watching all my plans blow away and accepting this new way forward.