coming up short

What happens when we’re short of time? When tomorrow is today. When what is yet to be now is. Lament lost opportunities? Kick ourselves or others or both for wasting time? Forge ahead, confident in our preparedness or simply hope for the best? (I reckon scads of candidates for public office feel this pressure right now!)

What happens when we’re short of talent? When tasks loom large and our abilities few, requiring, demanding more than we, with our experience and expertise, can manage or even imagine. Curse God or the fate of chance or our forebears and our genetic code for not having gifted us more generously? Press on, changing plans, maybe confessing our limitations and networking with others to expand the pool of skills?

What happens when we’re short of money? When whatever we want, we can’t afford and gratification is deferred. When whatever we need, we can’t buy (a daily experience for much of the world’s population) and necessity is denied. Use credit to fill the gaps? Tighten our proverbial belts ‘til it hurts, doing with less? Conserve – reuse, recycle, repurpose – what we have, letting nothing go to waste? Join forces, share resources with others so that all may have some of what we want and need?

As (more) important than being short of time, talent, or money, I think of creation. Not the Bible’s Genesis-version, “in the beginning,” but rather the end. What happens when it is clear that we, humankind, have come up short in our care for this fragile earth? When, in decrying the devastation ‘round about us, we also need confess that it hath been wrought in good measure by our guilty hands of gluttonous waste and massive pollution, whether by action or inaction, arrogance or ignorance? When through it all we have demonstrated our obvious, if, at times, unconscious, but no less unconscionable lack of concern for future generations? Another way to frame this question: What happens when we come up short of love and justice?

I pray we pledge our substance, our time, our talent, and our money (with each, how we use it, where we spend it, and for what). Most of all, I pray we pledge ourselves in a spirit of love and a sense of justice toward our greater care of the earth. May we open our minds to learn, our hearts to feel, our hands to do, so that we need not fear coming up short.

(I close, I confess, on a somewhat less than sanguine note. On Monday, the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, speaking at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas and describing the threat to global stability posed by climate change, presented the Pentagon’s 2014 Adaptation Roadmap, detailing how our military would respond to potentially escalating local, regional, and international disputes over resources. Though a prescient measure, I suppose, it remains largely reactive. Surely all national governments can do more.)

2 thoughts on “coming up short

  1. Paul,

    I needed this reminder today. I ALWAYS feel short of time, and sometimes talent too, depending on what type of assignment I’m working on. I don’t feel short of money however. I believe I earn more than my fair share of money, and know that I’m much more fortunate than many others.

    Where I KNOW I’m coming up short, is in my care and concern for the earth. Since I’ve been more focused on being outdoors and enjoying the earth more abundantly over the last few months, I also recognize how lacking I’ve been in preserving it as I should. I remember especially going Alaska for the second time in 2008 and noticing immediately how much the glaciers had receded from a few years earlier when we had actually walked on a glacier. i remember being stunned by that fact, but it didn’t spur me to give of myself and my time to the preservation of this great earth.

    I give so much of myself to others, in terms of my time, my talent and my treasure, and I’ve asked myself why the earth and our care of it (or lack thereof) hasn’t been higher on my priority list. But it’s never to late to start right? I’ve committed to not only visiting our National Parks, but also to helping to preserve them and their beauty. I’ve already started to volunteer. At least that’s a start!!

    You’re so right, all governments can do more than they are doing, but so can all of us individual people too. Appreciate the reminder and the push in the right direction!


  2. Yes, Loretta, you do give of yourself and your substance liberally to others. You are a fine model to emulate in these regards. And all of us need do more to care for, as a prayer has it, “this fragile earth, our island home.” Your and Tim’s travels, and now your regular and frequent excursions to national parks deepen your appreciation of the earth’s grand store of blessings. Would that we all had such experiences. Still, we can behold our world throughout your eyes, and, in that inspiration, lend our hands more readily to what we can do wherever we are.


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