You may have read or seen the play The Glass Menagerie. The main characters are Tom, Laura, and the mother, Amanda Windfield. The three of them live in a small apartment during the Great Depression, Mr. Wingfield having deserted the family, and Tom is left to do the major part of supporting them. Laura is shy and backward and finds joy in her glass menagerie, mainly to escape from mother Amanda’s insistence that she be just like she was in her youth: outgoing, popular, much sought after by “suitors.”
In fact, Amanda goes on and on and on about how sought after she was, why, one time she entertained 17 suitors in one room at one time!
The play is tragic in many ways, Laura has a disability of a physical sort that gives her a limp, in addition to her backwardness, Tom feels completely trapped and eventually leaves guilt-ridden and despairing.
But the real tragedy and the root, I believe, of everyone’s misery, is Amanda’s insistence upon living in the past and thereby spoiling any glimmer of hope for happiness in the now. And she also lives in the future, hoping that Laura will find herself with a room full of rich suitors…but she never lives, nor allows anyone else to live, in the now.
And I have to ask myself, very often, am I living in the now? To live in the past is tragic, and to live in the future, hoping for something better and something more, is foolish and futile beyond description.
Mike and I are going through boxes of photos together on date night and we enjoy reliving the past just a bit, because our past with our kids was a happy time. But the past is past, definitely part of all of our souls, but still, it is past.
And we sometimes talk about how we envision our golden years and the sprawling idyllic land where we will live in a cozy cottage and surrounded by family and good friends. And it is fun to dream like that. But the future is uncertain and may look quite different from our dreams.
The only certainty is now, this moment, with all of its troubles, and the people who surround us with all of their flaws (and if we’re honest, we perhaps have the most flaws of all). But this is the time to sparkle in the circumstances in which we live. And this is the time to love the people whom God has placed right in front of us.
Proverbs 17:24 says:
A discerning person keeps wisdom in view,
but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. (NIV)
Yes, a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. A fool is always looking for something other than what is right in front of him or her. Have you ever been speaking with someone and his or her eyes are darting about the room, searching to be sure that there is not someone more important to talk to? What an insult. And what a fool that person is. His or her eyes are always wandering to the ends of the earth, but never finding satisfaction in what is right there.
Sparkle now! And let the people who are right in front of you know that they are important, that they, in fact, sparkle in your eyes. This is wisdom and this is happiness.