Tis The Season of Good Byes

Rhapsody, by William Stanley Braithwaite

I am glad daylong for the gift of song

For time and change and sorrow

For the sunset wings and world-end things

Which hang on the edge of to-morrow.

I am glad for my heart who gates apart

Are the entrance-place of wonders.

Where dreams come in from the rush and din

Like sheep from the rains and thunders.

The term, “good bye”, has such a finality to it that I feel somewhat disquieted by just saying it. I am of an age that I am unsettled by the mere thought of seeing people for the last time. We are always at a crossroads where there are innumerable paths leading to many different situations and venues but now age has become the great finalist in determining the opportunities of the future. I now stand at the corner of the intersection of my fate. I can neither see left nor right nor return to the realities from whence I came. I have only the memory of that which is behind me, the past, in all its hindsight’s. The roads and paths taken, the dead ends met and the errors reversed. The maze that everyone experiences finding their way through life. It is with some somber rectitude that I gaze upon that which is before me.

I will soon travel to Florida the latter part of this month to retrieve my grandson’s dog, Scout. He is one of the litter of six from my Yellow Labrador. I gave him to my grandson and daughter when he was just a pup. He has spent most of his life with them but now things are changing, such is the mutability of life. My grandson will be leaving the nest for college and military service while my daughter will be leaving for Egypt for a new teaching career there. None of us can conceive of giving this dog away to strangers so I am going to Florida to get him and bring him home to be with his aging mother and sister, his litter mate.

Good byes are always hard for everyone. There is always the sadness with the teary eyes and sniffles. In our youth there was no finality for we had hopes and a certainty of again being reunited with our love ones and friends but age brings on its own dim uncertainty.

This year I have already lost one Masonic Brother and dear friend to age. A hero who was 17 years old when he landed on Iwo Jima with his marines during WWII. I have some more friends in hospices awaiting their appointed hour. I have one surviving sibling, a brother, who is younger than me. Which one of us will die first leaving the other as the last remnant of our family?

When I look about me I see the marks of change and decay written upon every living thing. The cradle and the grave stand side by side. One can’t help but think that it is a solemn truth, that as soon as we begin to live, that moment we begin to die. I would ask all of you how seldom we seriously consider our own approaching end.

Last October I was visiting old friends at what we call the Beach Bum Reunion in Panama City Beach, Florida. I had the opportunity to see my brother and nieces and nephews and visit with old friends at the reunion. When I departed the reunion I informed them that would probably be my last reunion due to the distance, the costs and my failing knees. My old dog is of a similar situation, limping around the house with her arthritis and her bumps and senility. Occasionally she still attempts to be playful but I know she hurts and I give her medicine to ease her pain and comfort her. I fret knowing her time is near. Will I put her down to ease her pain or will I hold her until her last breath?

I will see my daughters and grandchildren this month. I will see my ex-wife and her husband and her relatives, an old brother-in-law and sister-in-law. My grandson goes off to college, his mother to Egypt, my other daughter and granddaughter will return to Tennessee and I will return to Texas. A lot of hellos and greetings then comes the anxiety of the good-byes. At my age they are more like farewells and I hope to see you in the afterlife.

Death has no hold on me, I fear not its sting. Being a Christian and Mason, I am well prepared to meet the finality of this life. But with a certainty I know that death is not the end but yet just another mystery and adventure to be explored.

I am not a religious person by my definition even though I attend church every Sunday and pray with effortless ease. I am a spiritual person for sure least you be not be deceived. Over a lifetime I have arrived at my own personal beliefs and I deem church dogma and doctrine as bordering upon the edge of incompetence and hysteria. My creed is honesty and virtue, my motto is “For God and Country, Duty and Honor” I am extremely patriotic but watch with keen interest the political intrigue of our politicians and political system. Above all I am a male and deem Mother Nature as the blueprint and the plan for behavioral co-existence with each other. If I don’t see it in nature then I deem it to be perverted and unnatural.

I will attempt to pass on my own discovery of the truth though it may be different than your own. I believe in God as the Maker and Creator and is basically unknowable. God is certainly not a grey haired old man or lady abiding on a celestial cloud somewhere in this universe. I believe I am not the body you see but am more than the elements that make up my body. I believe you can’t create or destroy matter but just change it. My soul is incorruptible and will survive the grave, I can’t be destroyed nor you. My elemental body will rot and decay and again become components of other things. My soul is energy just like the Five Ancient and modern Platonic solids: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, and the Ether which translate into Gravity, Electromagnetism (Radiation), The Strong Force, The Weak Force and Life.

I believe in the Act of Faith. I do not believe God will cure you. If you have a disease then you pray to God but God doesn’t cure you, your own positive thinking does and the positive attitude of others in the laying on of hands. God doesn’t cure you but he does heal you. Each great faith has their own spiritual leaders such as Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius, Buddha and each has its own VSL(Volume of Sacred Law) which gives its adherents a blueprint for a leading a righteous life. I do not disparage other faiths and believe there are good people everywhere but are often led astray by religious zealots. I believe religious dogma and doctrine are evil in that they say “their way is the only way”.

My views are colored by my being An Ancient Free and Accepted Mason. We are taught to square our actions by the square of virtue towards all mankind, circumscribing our desires and keeping our passions within due bounds. Your own Holy Book (Volume of Sacred Law) you are to take as the rule and guide to your faith and practice. I believe in the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of mankind and light (Knowledge, Charity and Relief)

Am I a Christian? Yes I am! Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. For it is by his stripes I am healed. Am I religious? No! Am I spiritual? Yes! Am I devout? No! Am I philosophical? Yes! To me, God is a great mystery, an enigma, to be explored and sought for, to be a seeker of truth or light (knowledge) to at some point in your life gain enlightenment which turns your heart of stone into one of flesh.

I feel you must adhere to common sense and you have a right to feel righteous indignation. Stand up for what you believe is truth and not political rhetoric, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. In this universe there is a plan and that plan is Mother Nature. No matter what people say there is a pecking order, a food chain, the strong survive and breed and if you can’t survive then you die. Government cannot mandate equality. You get there and get what you want by hard work and ambition and doing just a little better than those you compete with. If you don’t contribute and produce to society then what good are you? Be strong! There are no guarantees, you have to earn your way. HOW IT IS! By Greg Moore. Enjoy!