Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2017

by Fr. Jonathan J. Filkins

Not so very long ago, there was a man who used some very poor judgment when he became involved in an assault. A young person was seriously hurt and required hospitalization. Eventually, there was recovery, but the effects of the act still  linger; not only for the victim, but also the perpetrator.

Never denying his complicity in the event, the man whom we shall call “David,” was arrested and quickly convicted of the crime. Coming at this person’s burgeoning portent of career and personal growth, the sentence was as devastating as the event which brought it to being: five years of hard prison time.

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For those who have never had the experience of being incarcerated, even for an hour, or lengthy years, the very concept of being unable to do whatever we want, when we want, is most foreign. Each moment is regulated, from the time of rising, eating, working, recreation, and being in the cell, to being told when to go to bed. Boredom and routine is the standard and there are no exceptions for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, deaths and any other of the myriad days we note on the “outside.”

It all is a very bland existence. This sameness is not meant to rehabilitate, only to house and punish. As is life in the penal system itself, even the food is without seasoning. As an example of our simple freedoms, when we sit down to the dinner table we, tangentially, express our choice to ask for the salt cellar; giving our plate a gentle dusting. Even this common commodity is often unavailable to those behind bars, for they are not allowed the choice.

After about two years, David was reclassified and moved to a lower security prison. One of his first comments was about the night sky, for he had been unable to see it before. Imagine, two years without seeing the sky. David was amazed by its beauty and grandeur; being unable to enjoy one of the many “Seasonings of Life.”

We all will acknowledge that oatmeal is a pretty boring food, without a little help. Consider a steaming bowl with fresh cream, cinnamon, a bit of brown sugar and some raisins thrown in for good measure. Now, here is meal! However, some ingredients may not be to our taste, while there may be unlisted others, more suiting. It’s a life choice, this seasoning.

In the Christian Church, there are often comments about the Seasons. Usually, these refer to the seasons of our aging; birth, baptism, marriage, death and so forth. Yet, there is very little direct commentary about the seasoning of our lives. It is what we add to the mix, the recipe of what our lives are all about.

These seasonings are all around us. Great literature, great music, inspiring conversations, travel, and even spending time in productive thought are but only a few of life’s seasonings. They are there for our choosing, or rejecting. It is what gives us life, in the true sense.

Bored, unfulfilled  and feeling an emptiness about something in life? Perhaps your seasoning is off. Start with a visit to a local church. It is a great place to pick up some local seasonings with your fellow humans, for they too may be seeking the seasonings which you alone possess. Life’s Seasonings are meant to be shared as, under God’s direction, we are to be filled with all of His gifts, throughout the Seasons of Life.

Postscript: David, after his release, has done quite well. Married and taking the role of devoted father with his mate’s two boys, he is a stable, productive citizen. He is now most aware of what constitutes the proper seasonings of a good life.