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Reflections on a Late-Summer Morning

It is with bittersweet countenance that I write this. A pale and fragile veil of autumn lingers still on this late-summer morning. Those warm, humid mornings of just a few weeks ago have gone and have been replaced by some mysterious early harbinger of fall. One morning not too long from now, I will awaken to find the world frosted white with delicate crystals of ice and I'll wonder where summer has gone. It seems I barely got to know her before she left me.

The tranquility and peace of this morning belies the violence, hatred, and selfishness that pervades the world in which we live. Somewhere right now, someone is being killed by an enemy. Somewhere right now a child is starving. Somewhere right now hate is fomenting against those who look different, or who believe differently than someone thinks they should. Vitriolic rhetoric will incite someone to action and someone else's right to believe as they wish will be infringed. Someone will be killed or hated because of the color of their skin or because of where they were born. Still others will be hated and denigrated because of their religion. Some will be hated because they believe in God and others because they don't.

Somewhere in the world a child is born into luxury with her future secure and her success all but certain. Somewhere in the world a child is born into squalor - his mother addicted to drugs, his father unknown. The child is hungry and there is nothing to eat. This child will struggle for his existence - certainly this child will struggle just to live.

In this world of so many with so much there are far too many with very little or nothing at all, and the gap between them continues to widen. A dangerous chasm between them is growing and when it becomes too deep and too wide, we will find that many will be consumed by this chasm of humanity's creation.

Even love seems to have lost its meaning. Somewhere a wife is cheating on her husband or a husband is cheating on his wife. Somewhere there are lovers keeping secrets from each other, living secret lives, enraptured the euphoria and allure of forbidden fun that comes from doing what they know is not right. All over the world right now there are men and women with hearts broken by those they have trusted, looking for solace in all the wrong places.

Friendship, too, has been diluted by sites like Facebook and MySpace which have turned the word "friends" into a meaningless mélange of superficial acquaintances and a crazy, fruitless contest to see who can have the most "friends". The word friends has lost its meaning -diluted by a new generation connected by iPhones, computers,  text messages, instant messages and messages left by clandestine identities and displayed on a "friend's" Facebook wall. Facebook and MySpace and sites of their ilk have created a sub-culture of pseudo-friends and one wonders whether future generations will even care about face-to-face, human, interaction. We're heading into an era where it's Facebook-to-Facebook interaction as reality melts away and humanity becomes beams of electrons, traveling at the speed of light, connecting "friends" to "friends". How will the word "friends" be defined decades from now?

I felt the breath of autumn touch my face this morning; I felt the touch of her hand on mine. She has gone now - she left as quickly and enigmatically as she came. She flew into this morning to touch my life and then flew quickly away again. On ephemeral wings she flew from a season not yet come to grace a quiet morning in a season not yet gone.

I feel so different from the rest of the world. So isolated, so alone, and so empty. My mind is filled with good thoughts this morning, still I ache for the sense that I belong to this human race - this humanity that seems to be out of control like a runaway train headed down steep, dark, foreboding mountain terrain.

My thoughts this morning transcend the seasons, my thoughts transcend time. Evanescent glimpses of things still to come and quiet yearnings for things that have too quickly passed are the seeds of reflection and introspection.

We can only flow downstream on the river of time, we can never turn around and go back to where we were. The current pushes us swiftly toward the whirlpool at the end of the river from which there is no escape. We fool ourselves into thinking that the river upon which we sail is meandering slowly and that the whirlpool is a mere intellectual construct - too fearsome to imagine and too magnificent to contemplate. We think we are floating safely on a lazy river that stretches forever before us, yet the whirlpool's swirling eddy grows ever closer with each passing hour.

Autumn touched me this summer morning and reminded me that the river of time is moving more swiftly than we think. I know that in a few hours I will again feel that I am floating down a lazy river safe with my illusion and self-deception - but in the deepest of my thoughts I know that the river upon which I sail is a raging and rocky rapids that carries me more swiftly than I can comprehend toward the whirlpool at its end.

Today the sun is shining and the breath of autumn gone but a moment from now I will see the fragile crystalline hand of autumn again and the next time she will not be a ghostly visitor from another time and place. I will remember the summer I barely knew and it will be too late. Summer will be gone and autumn will be preparing the Earth for the death that winter will bring.

Should the river of time take me around the next bend, then winter will at some point become the messenger of spring and the rebirth of life and hope that it always brings.

I am the captain of a ship I cannot steer, sailing on an ocean I cannot see. I cannot know what lies ahead and I cannot go back and gather up the things I've left behind. Yet my life will inevitably be measured by those things. Those who come after me will only know me by the things I left behind.

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