God looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.
Thanks to my Facebook friend Pamela, this is the song that has been my earworm for the last day or so. I still so totally dig R.E.M.
Well, it appears (surprise, surprise) that Harold Camping's prediction of "The Rapture" occurring today "at 6 p.m. in whatever time zone you are" gets to go in the annals of "mistaken predictions of the end of the world/the Apocalypse/whatever."
But about 12:30 a.m. I had something happen that had a much more legitimate chance of being "the end of the world" for me--my carbon monoxide detectors went off.
My carbon monoxide detectors, evidently, go off at 45 parts per million--ten ppm over the maximum allowed 8 hour exposure in the workplace by OSHA. Now, this is not anything close to a brush with death--it takes about 200 ppm to show symptoms like headache and nausea, and between 400-800 ppm to kill you within a few hours--but it is certainly the first time it's ever gone off. For several years, now, I have had CO detectors in the house, and religiously changed the batteries, and wondered, "Aw, I even wonder if these stupid things work." Well, evidently they do.
I shut off the furnace (it has still been chilly enough it kicks on at night now and then) and opened some windows, and in a few minutes they read zero again. Honestly, I was more worried about the dogs than me--I had no symptoms. In fact, I was messing around on the computer as I often do late at night. After all, Little Eddie, my smaller dog, only weighs 22 lbs. So I put the dogs outside a while. In a few minutes it was back to zero. More than likely, as my firefighter-turned-cop friend Ray said, "it was probably wind blowing it back down the vent." But I will get my furnace checked out all the same. Meanwhile, I doubt I will need it that much--I only had it on at night to take the edge off of the chill during a cool spell, as I have moved to my summer habit of sleeping with shorts and a t-shirt.
But it got me to pondering "wisdom" this morning. Really, most wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others and one's own mistakes. I never saw a need for CO detectors in my house until seven people died in their own home in Kirksville. The way I remember the story is in this house with 7 people, one came home inebriated and left the van running in the garage, and it killed the whole house full. Now, I generally don't make a point of even being inebriated, let alone driving home that way. I have some...er...wisdom...there from some other mistakes in my past. But it did drive home the point that CO poisoning is a silent killer, and I went out the very next week and bought CO detectors. This was the first time in the six years I've owned them they ever went off. I wish I could tell you I was doing some crazy redneck thing like grilling in the house with a charcoal grill or shooting fireworks in the house--but alas, I was just sitting on my butt playing with the computer.
But there is no doubt that "failed wisdom," if we are open to it, creates new wisdom.
What I am pondering is this: What if we simply lived every day of our life if it was "the end of the world as we know it?" One of the Ignatian things I do on a regular basis is lie in bed at the end of the day and examine my conscience and my consciousness--not just "did I do right today/did I mess some things up today?" but "Was I aware today?"
It has certainly changed some things in my world. I am quicker to tell people I love them. I am getting better at not taking things personally, even if someone else means for me to take it personally. (Just because they want to wrap me up in their stuff, doesn't mean I have to accept it.) I am quicker to be kind simply because it's the right thing to do, rather than be kind out of pity or fear, or "it might pay off for me later." I am starting to be sorry for my failings and let them go, and try again.
Continuing my discipline that started in Lent and continues through Easter--trying to live each day simply for "what it is"--is a challenge. But it is a challenge that seems to be paying off, although it is still too early to really tell. Meanwhile, I will live in the hope of more wisdom!