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Dust In the Wind

Almost thirty years ago I made an Ignatian Retreat In Daily Life over a period of seven months. I was going to a spiritual director for a year before starting the retreat. Below is a journal entry I made early in the retreat. Ellen and I were staying at the Timber Cove Inn north of Fort Ross. We had a large room overlooking Timber Cove.

September 19, 1995

It’s late. I had to do my prayer after Ellen went to bed. I’m sitting in the room, and I can hear her sleeping and the ocean below. We’re at the Timber Cove Inn.

I have had the song “Dust In the Wind” by Kansas going through my mind all during my prayer time. I can’t get it to stop. I turned off the light for a while. I can see the stars through the skylight. I can see the silhouette of the hills to the east. I hear the ocean. I was suddenly very thankful to God for the lovely getaway. Somehow the words “All we are is dust in the wind” seemed very appropriate. The stars in the sky have been here for billions of years. The mountains for millions. The ocean too. Our lives are so fleeting. Our seventy or eighty odd years of life are nothing compared to the life of the earth and the stars and yet we are immortal. Our souls will live forever in Heaven, or in Hell, while someday the earth and the stars will cease to exist. And while we seem insignificant in relation to them at times, God values each and every one of us much more than the universe that surrounds us.

When I wrote that at the age of 43 seventy seemed so far in the future. Now I am past that age. I spent a good part of 2019 to 2022 preparing for my 50/52 year high school reunion. (Covid delayed the 50 year so we had a 52 year reunion). That included posting photos on Facebook of classmates who had died. Some died many years ago. More are dying now and more will continue to die. Can’t do anything about that. I can, though, share something that I shared with those at the reunion in 2022 when I spoke to the room:

May 7, 2022

I have been reading more lately. I am currently reading, Josef Pieper: An Anthology. (He was a German philosopher) He talks in part about love in its various forms including friendship. He said it is important to recognize and let the other know, “it is good you exist”. Love, including friendship, is not just a feeling, it is an act of will. I have been friends with some of you longer than others, on Facebook and off. Some of you I have not seen for years and others I see more frequently. With some of you I agree with some things and disagree on other things. Despite this I can say to all of you: It is good you exist.

It is good YOU exist.

 

Addendum

The scripture I was praying with in 1995 was Luke 15:1-32. Jesus shared three parables with the Pharisees and scribes: The Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Parable of the Lost Coin and The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother.

Now I had heard or read those stories countless times before. I knew that the message was about how important we are to God and how much He loves us. I probably would not have gotten so much from my time of prayer if not for the distraction, or at least what I thought was a distraction. Now when I pray and there is a distraction I pause to see if God is just trying to get my attention. Most of the time it is just a distraction. The beauty of Him using a distraction like that is, I remember that prayer period from thirty years ago as if it were yesterday. I wish they were all that memorable.

Greg Gillen

5/14/2024

© 2024 Greg Gillen

Image Credit/KTAR News/Wind (AP File Photo)

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