I was standing there admiring the amazing installation of a hot water heater. I didn’t hear it coming. It was silent. I couldn’t see it – it was coming from above, and that’s not where my attention was. I was looking horizontal, not vertical.
Morning coffee in hand, celebrating the artistry of Steve’s work, I suddenly was accosted by dirty underwear, crummy socks and wet towels. I was doing my admiring while standing directly beneath the laundry shoot and it was shower and get dressed time two floors up.
I looked up and shouted into the tube – a black hole with no one listening on the other end. It was a personal metaphor for all kinds of things in life, even prayer at times. From the deadening of the Great Barrier Coral Reef to the crumbling of relationships between nations, awe and beauty are marred by shortsightedness and selfishness, or just plain ignorance.
If I had been a bit more attentive to where I was, I could have admired the installation of the hot water heater while avoiding the high tide of dirty laundry. Are we taking beauty for granted while ignoring what scientists and theologians and community organizers and sociologists have been clamoring about – that all things are connected?! Some beauty is spontaneously created, unplanned and unscripted; but can we cut funding for the arts and leave it all to chance? Can we decimate the EPA and presume that coral reefs and clean air will just always be there? Can we become so insular about who and where we are – individually or as a nation – and assume we will be safe? Should Snoop Dogg be silenced on YouTube and Donald Trump be allowed to spew forth on Twitter?
Some say that going to church actually helps us “look up” in ways that matter, taking us beyond selfishness and judgment toward a more gentle attitude with others. We hear a message or find ourselves in a community that first challenges and then helps to” erode our prejudices.” (The Atlantic.)
The take-away for me, after peeling the sock off my ear, was to ponder this: What is truly needed in order to have a more accurate sense of just exactly where I am? In the “hot water / laundry shoot situation” … If only I had looked up.