Things That Last

I can’t believe we are on the “backside” of 2009. In less than 6 months 2010 will usher in a new decade. I can’t help but look back with nostalgia. At this point in my life, ten years ago, I had just graduated high school, was living at home and working at a local convenience store, and was gearing up for my first year at the University of Northern Iowa beginning my undergraduate career. What’s in ten years?

I’ve undoubtedly changed in the last 10 years. I won’t try and catalog all that has happened, nor could I really, as too much has gone on. As I look back, peer over what has become of family and friends, work and hobbies, faith-life and journeys — and much more — I find myself generally content with where life has led me. Of course there have been disappointments, reconciliations and healing, challenges and strife and the myriad of other ways life has humanized and humbled. I’m grateful for these experiences, too, as wisdom is often espoused in teaching/learning moments.

Where has the trajectory of life pointed after ten years?

Without being overly philosophical, I’ve recently been reminded of – taken stock of, really – things that last. Who/what are the things that last? Who/what (really) matters? The old adage is true: the only thing permanent about life is change; the only thing that doesn’t change is change. If this is true, what threads itself through our being and collective? What constitutes the ultimate backdrop and ever elusive horizon of life? What is the mystery and more all about?

I admit I have more questions than answers. This is to be expected I guess. As one “evolves,” one realizes hard answers are only illusions. Life is in the questions, perhaps not even the right questions. The process, I’m convinced, is where Grace and consolation nestle itself, hide out for further discerning and meaning making. My process has illuminated that truth, for which many fight about and wage war, is subjective in the here and now, in the existential reality in which we find ourselves. There is likely an ultimate truth, as I, too, believe in an ontological “more and mystery” many name God, but the corporal (societal governance’s, church institutions, etc.) only know a piece, are gifted with a morsel, understand a kernel of the human condition and divine majesty.

So what are the things that last? I have some hunches.

1) God is love, perhaps this only.

2) Relationships sustain. We need each other, more than we’ll admit.

3) Injustice is humanity’s chronic condition. Feeling with, and being about, those on the margins is perhaps the biggest Grace one can ever receive.

4) Ongoing openness to conversion is necessary, takes time (sometimes a lot of time!), and supports and challenges new learnings and ways of being.

There are others, I’m sure. I have as limited knowledge of and insight into the world as others. Yet, limited doesn’t mean unimportant or arbitrary. It simply means incomplete, something I rely on others and God to “fill-in.” Only the more can really fill-in completely. Get comfortable being incomplete – it’s not a deficiency, its gift; it points us towards things that matter.

Ten years after graduating high school, I can’t help but nod to the past, affirming things that sustain, and gazing towards the future with new eyes. This, all in ten years.

2 thoughts on “Things That Last

  1. Ryan, this is a wonderful post and you have had a great 10 years of discovery. It took me 30 years after high school to get to the same place that you have arrived. In the last 5 years I have been actively pursuing and acting on the hunches you have identified. Yes, there are more gifts (think Beatitudes) but those come as you say with further conversion of mind, body and spirit.


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