Lifelong Lessons



This is a child’s face;
the face of idyllic ignorance.

(In the beginning, this was his face,
years before the arousal of his arrogance.
The arrogance that,
because of his anger at his sullied innocence,
believed that all of life, his life in this world ought be as he desired:
ever kinder,
ever gentler,
ever fruitful,
never, ever again, painful.
The arrogance ever proving to him
that entitlement need not alway be a fruit of wealth,
but can be a misshapen seed of a quest for self-worth.)

Could he have known
then, when so young,
that, sometimes, those who inflict hurt most,
and sometimes (enough times) inadvertently, with absence of intent,
would be those who,
by virtue of parentage and heritage,
were s’pposed to have loved him first and best?


Though learn that lesson, he did.

Could he have known
then, when so young,
that oft (alway?) the scales of the world
and the ways of institutional systems
(whether socio-economic, educational, political, or ecclesial)
were…are imbalanced,
favoring upper classes and men and certain colors (or lack)
and, surely, not beholden to black
(though that his parents,
who came to maturity in America’s early-20th century,
sought to teach him via “The Talk”:
“Son, you must work harder
to be better and smarter,
in order,
merely, to be equal to the world’s privileged”)?


Though learn that lesson, he did.

Could he have known
then, when so young
(as ancient Simeon prophesied to Mary
because of the self-sacrificial life of her son,
she would bear grave suffering:
“A sword will pierce your own soul, too”)
that the trials of others, all others crucified on the crosses
of the world’s injustices
would grieve his bleeding heart
more, far more than his own struggles?


Though live – in striving to serve – that lesson, he does.

4 thoughts on “Lifelong Lessons

  1. Paul,

    First and foremost, I love this photo!! It captures so much! My focus is on the innocence of that little face!! As you pointed out we LEARN so many lessons through life, trillions I’d guess, and many of those lessons turn out to be painful!!

    But the life you’re living, to serve others and correct some of the things you’ve discovered are unbalanced or just plain wrong, says to me that LESSONS aren’t just meant to be LEARNED, they must also be ACTED UPON, so that you for doing that for so many years, for so many people.

    As you tell me often, CARRY ON!!!!

    Much love!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully expressed, Paul. Learning those lessons and then learning what to make of them is a lifelong challenge, I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loretta, as I read your comments, tears form in the corners of my eyes. Your words are affirmation for me of my being on the right track of life. I wrote earlier to someone commenting on this post confessing that for many, many years I was bitter about being hurt first and worst by those who were to have loved me first and most. And that it has taken years to arrive at a place beyond being bitter to being better, that is, more mindful of others pains (for I’d spent years dwelling only on mine!) than my own. Thank you, thank you. I will carry on! Love


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