Spiritual Reflections


by Joyce Tompkins

Joyce Tompkins

Joyce Tompkins is the Religious Advisor to the Campus Protestant Community. Other Spiritual Reflections are available on the Religious Advisor's page.

You can write to Joyce at jtompki1@swarthmore.edu

Lately I am overwhelmed with overdue notices, deadlines, and reminders for checkups. There are all the financial aid forms for my three sons; two already in college and one on the way there next year which means - guess what! more piles of application forms!. Then there are reminders of my sons' medical checkups, immunizations, dental appointments, and tax forms. Two sets of graduations with accompanying travel plans, hotel reservations, announcements, gifts. Various overdue health maintenance check-ups for me, which seem to have multiplied exponentially since I turned 50. The pets, of course, are both overdue for their shots, annual exams and teeth cleaning. The hard drive on my computer is overdue for a backup, and both cars are due for inspection this month. The house needs painting and the windows need washing and there is a spot where the roof is leaking in the breakfast room. All of that is overwhelming enough. But what really sent me over the edge was a phone call reminding me that my vacuum cleaner is overdue for its check up. "My vacuum cleaner gets a checkup?!!!!" I sputtered into the phone, even though the voice on the other end was an automated dial-up and couldn't respond.

What are we doing to ourselves? I fear we are victims of our own success. I am reminded of a quote from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. "I asked not for success, but I asked for wonder; and you, Lord, have given it to me." Outside, the wild geese are heading south in their chevron flight. I know: the geese are considered pests now, fouling the golf courses and the soccer fields and not even migrating any longer with our warmer winters. No matter: my blood stirs at the sounds of their calls. A deer pauses in the woods while I run, its delicate legs poised for flight. I know: the deer are considered pests as well, and we are preparing to cull them because they are destroying the undergrowth in the woods. No matter: my heart thrills at the brief communion between her dark eye and mine. The sun is rising above the trees, emerging through banks of gold and crimson cloud. I know: the sun is not rising, it is the earth that turns and the colors are due to pollution in the atmosphere. No matter: I bow in reverence before the returning sun. Let the vacuum cleaner languish with ill health in its closet. I will head outside to the snowdrops, and fall on my knees, again, before the miracle of life.