We humans have little control

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The bright orange life jackets reflected in the gray green water on this clear sunny Sunday afternoon. From my spot on shore, I listened and laughed as my three granddaughters paddled around in circles squealing and singing.

Getting the hang of canoeing wasn’t happening, but the fun of trying more than compensated for their lack of forward motion. For their grandmother, watching the show was pure joy.

“Looks a little like the three stooges going canoeing out there,” I said to my son who had a turn earlier paddling his girls around before grabbing his fishing pole and leaving them to their own devices.

He laughed and headed for the pier to join his sister where they competed to snag the catch of the day before sunset.

Later, with the canoe back on dry land, the girls and I trekked through the woods surveying the condition of a trail cut for golf cart riding and walking. The snow last winter left it a tangled mess as trees gave way under the weight of wet flakes and fell in crisscross patterns over and around the trail.

One large tree ended up straddling the creek making a perfect natural bridge, which of course the girls had to walk over, holding their arms out like circus tightrope artists.

As the day ended with the bright sun sliding slowly into the lake, I sat surrounded by my grandchildren listening to them giggle and make plans for their next adventure at “Gran’s house.”

It was a perfect day, one you store in your memory, saving images for when life moves ahead and squealing girls become grown women.

I replayed the slideshow of Sunday afternoon this morning as I sat reading about what is taking place a world away in Japan. The story described how relatives and friends search shelters looking for people they love who are missing. It said thousands of bodies washed ashore and told how workers move among the devastation trying to return some kind of order to what is now a world of chaos.

Another story sent chills up my spine as it focused on the unfolding nuclear disaster that is heaping another tragedy on top of the one left in the wake of a monster earthquake and tsunami. The ripples from an impending meltdown could affect places far beyond where the giant wave rolled in.

All of this pain and tragedy happening while I was safe beside the lake enjoying a perfect afternoon with my family.

“How blessed I am,” I whispered. And, how helpless I feel thinking about the families in Japan.

Just after the news of the earthquake, my husband and I sat talking about how quickly things change, about how fragile life is for all of us.

“We forget that we are standing on, building things on and existing on top of something that is as alive as we are,” he said. “The earth shifts and moves and changes all the time, and humans really have so little control over things. But we think we do.”

He is right. The place we call home with its hot bubbling core is a ball spinning through space living out its own existence while we humans come along for the ride.

So on those perfect days and even on the ones that I judge as not so perfect, gratitude and appreciation should be my attitude because I never know when the ground under my feet might shift and change my life into an unrecognizable experience.

And, while I breathe a breath of thankfulness for my safety and happiness, I send up prayers for the people in Japan and hope I find a way, even a small one, to do something that contributes to perfect days, like the one I experienced Sunday, returning to their lives.