Today was supposed to be the first day of my 2020-21 school year. It will be my 22nd year as a classroom teacher. It was also supposed to the first day of our daughter O’s senior year.
But it’s not. Our first days are a few more days away. My first day of school is nine days in the future and O’s is fifteen.
It’s been a summer of uncertainty and anxiety for many people as the future is constantly changing and beyond our control. I am reminded of a prayer my mother shared with many years ago when I was struggling and needed lifting up,
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
That prayer is better known as The Serenity Prayer. There is so much beyond my control, it is best to focus on the present.
And, I have been. I’ve been making the days count in more ways than I can write about.
Currently, I am on a streak of seven days of walking or working out.
A week ago this past Saturday I drove to the Morton Arboretum for a hike, or as it turned out, it was a troll. I was able to take in four of the six trolls on my almost 4-mile hike along the trails at the arboretum. It was my longest hike going back to April and it felt good to walk along the wooded paths and hear the birds and the rustle of the gentle wind through the leaves above.
I believe the trolls – the trolls at the arboretum – are trying to tell us something.
The trolls are an exhibit of recycled art by Danish artist Thomas Danbo. Danbo uses recycled wood and other materials to create giant trolls in public places. Joe the Guardian was last week’s Wordless Wednesday post and if you look closely, you will see the moon peaking through in blue morning sky.
When Danbo’s work was installed at the Morton Arboretum in 2018, it was intended to last two years but the COVID19 crisis has extended the display into 2020. And it’s a good thing, at least for me.
Danbo created a story to tell the story of his six giant troll creations. The trolls were placed in the arboretum to warn us about the dangers of humans and what they do to the natural world. Four of the six trolls are below.
Danbo’s exhibit has six trolls placed throughout the vast 1,700 acre arboretum which was once the estate of Joy Morton and was established in 1922. The arboretum is bounded on the south by intersection of I-88, the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway and I-355 – the North-South Tollway. The arboretum is bisected by another road Illinois 53. The arboretum is also on a glide path for O’Hare International Airport and places fly over at two to five-minute intervals throughout the day. It’s a busy place and sound of human activity invades the space sometimes drowning the sounds of nature. But deep in the woods the sounds of cars and airplanes are muffled. It’s not what it was 98 years ago before the highways and airport were constructed. It’s what happens when six million or so people move into an area and change the world to better suit ourselves.
I walked the east side of the arboretum and I came across four of the six trolls. I stopped at each to take photograph with my phone and continued my walk. Joe the Guardian is my favorite troll of the six. He stands high on a berm constructed to abate the salt spray from the expressway below during our winters. He fixes his gaze to the horizon of the suburban sprawl and the city of Chicago some 30 miles to the east. I paused to record the scene in 360 degrees.
If you look closely at Joe, he looks worried. But I believe, that he’s focused on protecting the forests and nature from us and in the end for us. Because he’s seen what endangers our world and it is us.
I think that’s what the trolls are telling us. We need to slow down, we need to focus on today, we need to worry about what we have control over, and we need to listen to the birds, the bees, the trees, and the bears, yes even the bears.
I’ve been conditioned to believe that I control many things, but, I can only control me. I can use my influence with others, but I can only control me.
So that’s what I am going to do today – I am going to do my best to make my day count and stretch my 7-day streak into an 8-day streak. And I gonna do so much more. Making the Days Count, one day at a time worrying about what I CAN DO.
What are doing today to make your day count?