Why Bother?

Why Bother

Lent 29-30

 

The topic for this series is the Beatitudes, eight proverbs that offer sage advice on life and how we approach it.  So, a follower asked, what could centuries-old words possibly know about life in the 21st century?  “Our destiny is not written in the stars, but in our smiles.”  These words were written in this century, this month in fact, by a retired yet very busy man of faith, a man who is also a member of one of the first tribes on the North American continent. 

 

The Beatitudes offer us wisdom on how to turn life’s events, many of which are not pleasant, into smiles.  A person might interpret these eight proverbs in the following manner:  to be encouraged … to help the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners, to console all who mourn, to strengthen those who mourn, by giving them joy and praise.  This interpretation, I should point out, comes from words written long before the Beatitudes.  This interpretation comes from Isaiah, the sixty-first chapter, in the Old Testament.

 

Why bother to seek a way to turn around life’s problems?  Life is not a joy ride and yet, as Steven Charles Charleston wrote in the above quote, “Our destiny is not written in the stars, but in our smiles.”  What we become is determined by how we respond to life.  The best parent in the world can have a child who becomes an addict.  The best employee can find him or herself out on the street jobless.  The most reverent follower can become persecuted by another claiming to also be a believer. 

 

Bishop Steven Charleston believes “Our glory is not in greatness, but in what we share.”  This is why we bother.  We share living on this planet and when we show mercy or compassion or love to one another, we improve the living of all.  The word for this in this Beatitudes is summed up as “blessed”.  Regardless of how you define it and those definitions are based upon which century the word is used, it ends up meaning one thing – worthy.

 

When we turn our grief into comfort, we respect and make worthy our living.  The person who disdains wicked plans or lying creates a peace from which all benefit.  The person who builds bridges among the peoples of the world by feeding the hungry and clothing the poor is building a wonderful family and kingdom of brotherhood.

 

We need to bother in turning life’s misfortunes around because that will create our destiny.  Bemoaning the past does little in preparing for the future.  There are lessons to be learned from the past and they hold great value but we must continue to move forward as we learn from them.  The tears we shed are but a prologue to the glory of living.  It is not the construction of great towers of grandiose power that make someone successful, great, or even holy. 

 

The little things we do for one another – a hug, assistance, the sharing of a smile.  These are the things that bless us and make us whole.  We see the beauty of the world and feel blessed when we share a smile and remember each other with joy.   Why bother? We bother in order to create more smiles and to become truly blessed.   “Our destiny is not written in the stars, but in our smiles.” 

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Women, Life and Beliefs

Life and Beliefs

Lent 28

 

Religious freedom is not just something discussed and guaranteed in the United States Constitution, although said document was one of the first to include it in a government’s laws and stated human rights.  It has been the goal of mankind since beliefs became diverse and openly discussed.  Clearly the first deliverance of the Jewish people from the bondage in Egypt was not a cure-all.  In the mid twentieth century Adolf Hitler sought to not only enslave them but to eradicate them, even though he himself was of Jewish descent.   “We were redeemed from Egypt because of the righteousness of the women of that generation.”  This sentence is found in the Talmud, the Jewish holy book.   

 

Today many people are seeking freedoms, both for religious purposes but also for just basic living.  Sarah Aaronsohn was born at the end of the nineteenth century and spent her life trying to obtain freedom for Palestine from Turkish rule.  She was tortured for her efforts but remained strong and determined, faithful to her religion.  Lina Abarbanell was an opera singer of high acclaim.  She retired from singing but not from the stage and became a worldwide director of such wonderful operas as “Porgy and Bess”.  Born in Germany immediately after the end of World War I, Rosalie Silberman Abella took her experience as a refugee and used it as motivation to help others.  She became the first Jewish woman elected to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Ruth Abrams became the first woman to serve on the Massachusetts Supreme Court, championing both women and minorities through her legal career.  Ruth Ginsberg is a vigilant and powerful presence in the United States Supreme Court today.

 

Lithuanian Dina Abramowicz was a Holocaust survivor from World War Ii.  While many hold that librarians are quiet, dull people, usually female, Dina proved them wrong.  As the head librarian of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, she helped recreate the rich heritage of the Jewish culture and people after WWII.  Bella Abzug was a New Yorker who also proved the strength of the Jewish woman.  Throughout her three terms as a U.S. Congresswoman, she advocated for and helped pass ground-breaking legislation for equal rights and particularly the right of women to play intramural sports in schools.

 

More recently Jill Abramson was the first female executive editor of the New York Times and promoted women within the organization as well as featuring stories regarding gender equality and racial injustice.  Rachel Adler sought to achieve gender equality within her own faith and was a pioneer of the Jewish feminist movement.  Born fifty years earlier, Paula Ackerman had taken over leadership of her rabbi husband’s congregation upon his death, a move that was met with support from the members of their synagogue.   Amy Alcott is a fantastic golfer who was recognized in the World Golf Hall of Fame.  Sue Alexander is a founding member of the International Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

 

The Beatitudes offer us a reason to continue to believe, in spite of what life throws at us.  They also have, for many, provided a foundation for which to live.  With no mission board to support or guide her and less than ten dollars in her pocket, Gladys Aylward left her home in England to answer God’s call to take the message of the gospel to China.  Amy Carmichael is an Irish missionary who spent fifty-three years in South India without a break.  Both women believed that their Creator would provide for their needs.

 

Dr. Helen Roseveare graduated in medicine from University of Cambridge in the late 1940′s. A well-known missionary doctor and author, with several of her works still in print, she worked in the north-eastern province of the Belgian Congo with the Heart of Africa Mission in the 1950′s & 60′s.  Art critic John Ruskin enthusiastically proclaimed her potential as one of the best artists of the nineteenth century, but Lilias Trotter’s devotion to Christ compelled her to surrender her life of art, privilege, and leisure. Leaving the home of her wealthy parents for a humble dwelling in Algeria, Lilias defied stereotypes and taboos that should have deterred any European woman from ministering in a Muslim country. Yet she stayed for nearly forty years, befriending Algerian Muslims with her appreciation for literature and art and winning them to Christ through her life of love.

 

Khadīja Khuwaylid Even was an important figure in her own right even before her famous marriage to the Prophet Muhammad, since she was a successful merchant and one of the elite figures of Mecca. She played a central role in supporting and propagating the new faith of Islam and has the distinction of being the first Muslim. 

 

One of the most important mystics (or Sufis) in the Muslim tradition, Rābi‘a al-‘Adawīyya spent much of her early life as a slave in southern Iraq before attaining her freedom. She is considered to be one the founders of the Sufi school of “Divine Love,” which emphasizes the loving of God for His own sake, rather than out of fear of punishment or desire for reward. She lays this out in one of her poems:

“O God! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,

and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise.

But if I worship You for Your Own sake,

grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.”

 

March is Women’s History Month so today I have dedicated this post to women of great faith.  Throughout history women have lived and fought for their religious beliefs and freedoms, finding strength in the cause and effects echoed in the Beatitudes.  These named represent a small minority of the thousands of thousands of brave and spiritual women who have lived according to their beliefs.  The list just goes on and on as these women have found purpose and strength from their faith.  After all, why do we believe if it is not to help us live better and leave the world a better place?

 

 

 

 

 

Acceptance and Denial

Acceptance and Denial

Lent 26-27

 

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Most of us, after a certain age, start to see our parents or grandparents.  We realize that we have Grandma’s nose or Dad’s ears.  Perhaps we’ve always known about the family stature and delighted in either reaching it or passing it.  For some, their vocation is also a matter of family tradition.  There has been an on-going debate about what skills and talents might be genetic since man first realized inheritance applied to more than just land holdings and revenue.

 

Recently one of my own progeny said they heard my words coming out of their mouth.  I should in complete honesty add that they did not seem overjoyed at this event but they did admit the wisdom of the words they’d had spoken to them as a child.  A parent has to take their compliments whenever and however they can!

 

I had an acquaintance once that looked very much like her mother.  She was not very happy about this and I could understand why.  It is to be hoped that all parents nurture and support their children but the truth is that some people never really mature in their roles as parents.  In short, some people bear children without having a clue as to how to nurture them.  My acquaintance’s mother was not a supportive person to her daughter and often was a hindrance.

 

Having known this person for several decades and upon a chance meeting, I inquired about her mother.  I was being more polite than expressing any real interest but was very surprised nonetheless when my acquaintance smiled and said her mother was doing well, having outlived most of her contemporaries.  I asked if their relationship had improved.  My friend smiled and said that it had not.  She then casually said that while one might grow older, one did not always mature with age.

 

I had seen this acquaintance through several crying bouts when we were younger because of the pain and neglect of her mother so her offhanded remarks caught me by surprise and I told her so.  She replied that she still looked like her mother but now had accepted the resemblance.  “Just imagine,” she asked, “what the woman would have done if my looks were not proof I was her own child!”  While her mother’s behavior had not grown with age into a more loving relationship, my friend’s acceptance of her familiarity of physical appearance had brought her comfort.

 

All too often our value as a person is based upon anything and everything except who we are inside.  Regardless of which creation story you believe, we are uniquely made and individuals in our own right.  When we allow the behaviors of others to be the currency of our souls, we are denying our right to self-worth. 

 

I hope this week you are looking into your mirror and seeing past your reflection.  Our true value is found not only in physical appearance but in our actions and our words, our compassion and treatment of others.  At some point we are all alone with ourselves. We should strive to get to know ourselves and then become a person we can like, a person we feel as value. 

 

The Beatitudes, the subject of our series this Lent are about acceptance.  When we recognize the cause and accept the effect, we are then able to move forward.  Sunday is, in many cultures, considered the first day of the week.  It offers new beginnings and hopes, the chance to fulfill our aspirations and meet our goals.  It is followed by Monday, arguably considered the most detested day of the week.  Sunday and Monday are two sides of one twenty-four hour period and our acceptance of their shared twelve hours either determines whether it is a Super Sunday or Manic Monday.

 

We create our own currency.  No one else can do that.   No one else can be us.  When we allow someone else to deny us the right to be ourselves, we are abdicating our own presence and bankrupting our self-worth.   “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”  Harvey Fierstein’s advice is pure gold.

 

Treasured Lessons

Treasured Lessons

Lent 23, 24, 25

 

I really value the early morning.  Throughout my lifetime I have been surrounded by late sleepers so the early morning was my own personal time and space.  It was as the sun began its ascent with its wisps of color heralding a new day that I would imagine the angels and fates beginning to cross the sky, seeking out souls to bless or offer aid and, perhaps, comfort.  Regardless of what transpired the day or days before, each new morning was a new gift with unexplored treasures to find.

 

Recently I began a new exercise regime and, true to my nature, it starts very early.  I like that the gym is sparsely crowded because then there are few people to rant and rave.  I still value those early morning promises and really dislike it when people want to rehash yesterday’s problems before the sun has settled comfortably in the sky.  This truly is, for me, a day which the Lord (or Spirit) has made and I strongly dislike anyone messing with my morning peace.  Thank heavens for headphones and mP3/iPod players!

 

We talked earlier this week about life being a treasure map that we explore during our lifetime.  The important thing about such explorations is not just the treasure we may be fortunate to unearth but the lessons learned along the path we travel.  I learned early on at the gym that people do not usually want answers or lessons.  They just want to exercise their tongues.  Our lives really deserve more than just hot air.

 

One of the movie’s more famous explorers has been, in the past two decades, the character of Indiana Jones, archaeology professor turned detective, seeking the world’s ancient treasures.  Popular on the big screen, his television counterpart would be Josh Gates but we’ll discuss Josh another time.

 

The perils faced by the fictional Indiana Jones are not uncommon to those faced by actual archaeologists.  (By the way, there is a grave at an Episcopal church in Berlin, MD which bears the name of Indian Jones – a real beloved wife with no connection to either Hollywood or the screenwriters.)  They also give us some brilliant insights in to some real treasures for living, lessons we all could use.

 

Respect might be the most important lesson the Indiana Jones movies teach us.  Respect for each other should be a given and yet, all too often we think in a “me” frame of mind instead of a “we” frame of mind.  Respect for different cultures is also important.  Something might seem weird to us but our ways are also just as weird to someone else.

 

One of Indiana Jones’ shortcomings is to never seem to be adequately prepared for his skirmishes.  If there is a gun fight, he always seems to have only a sword and vice versa.  Life does not come with guarantees and, in spite of a seemingly endless variety, there really are no crystal balls that foretell the future.  What saves Professor Jones is his thinking a problem out and discovering that, as in life, often the answer is a rather simple solution.  We need to expect the unexpected (Indiana Jones is always being chased by something – boulders, screaming tribesmen, even snakes.) and then calmly think of a way to deal with what life has given us.

 

Long ago the wheel was invented, as was fire.  It is perfectly okay for us to draw upon the past and walk the steps of those who have gone before us.  We need to remember to be humble and accept our own shortcomings.  We also need to have the strength to ask for help and admit when we cannot do it all alone.  Sometimes we need to have the strength and courage to think outside of the box. 

 

We need to know where we are and with whom we are traveling.  There is an old saying “don’t play poker with a pickpocket.”  It is good advice, not just for playing cards but for selecting our friends.  Too often we allow people into our inner circle that tear us down instead of building us up.  Friendship is supposed to be a positive thing.  Be very wary of people to whom you are a better friend than they are to you.  We need to often have faith in others but most importantly, have faith in ourselves.

 

Every treasure map seems to lead one to a fork in the road.  “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” begins a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The poem speaks to having the courage to take the right path, even though it is not the popular one.  Not everything that glitters is really gold and sometimes life’s most golden lessons come to us in the most ugly of forms, tattered and torn but very valuable.

 

The treasures we hold dear in life say more about us than they do about themselves.  It is not what we accumulate that will define us as people.  How we have lived and the risks we were willing to take build character.  The well-worm sandals of a traveler are not the glittery, sparkling heels of a model but they do show character and a willingness to live.  They speak of one who has searched for truth and shared smiles along the journey. 

 

My early morning exercises are not just for my physical body; they are for my soul.  The quiet meditative moments of a sunrise will mean very little if I do not share my life.  We need to let go of the grief from yesterday but we also need to hold onto each other.  We need to live not in fear or focusing on troubles but by walking our paths together, listening and sharing respect, peace, and joy.  There is always something new to learn (I Corinthians 13), success to gleam from failures (Philippians 3), and new things to see (Ephesians 1).  On my own personal journey, I need to perhaps unplug in order to really grpw and find my own desired success.  As Philippians 4:14, advises – Share the ride!

And then … What?

And then…What?

Lent 22

 

It is almost impossible to name a fairy tale that does not start with “Once upon a time…”.  There are certain things that come with predisposed bits of language.  Parents usually begin a lecture with “When I was your age…” and most board meetings with “Thank you for coming.”  This not only are commonplace, they give us comfort because we know something will follow.

 

Most of us will take a breath right about now and, hopefully, that breath will be followed by another.  Millions of people have been given comfort when, having been diagnosed with sleep apnea, they are given a CPAP machine which blows air into the nasal passages to facilitate respiration.  The mechanized blowing in is followed by an automatic human exhaling which then triggers another breath in…and out… and in… and out, etc.  The process gives the equipment its name – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.

 

Life offers us its own continuous process.  The dilemma is that we seldom recognize the lessons contained therein.  The beatitudes are a series of such continuous processes.  If we love and value something, we will miss it when it is gone.  If we stand up for what we believe, others will try to dissuade us and criticize us.  When we try to do goodness, we will be more able to recognize goodness in others and the world.

 

So yesterday is history.  Today is the present and tomorrow…well, tomorrow’s page has yet to be written.  The words that will be on it, though, the future, will be based upon what we learned from yesterday and today.  If we handled ourselves with grace and compassion towards others, we will be identified as benevolent people, most likely followers of a benevolent belief system.  If we remain calm and work towards peace, we will encourage others to do the same.

 

Many do not think that the Beatitudes do not offer comfort but to me, they promise another day.  The beatitudes are about the future and the fact that our actions today will write our future tomorrow.  Suzy Kassem wrote a poem about this, entitled “The Four Heavenly Fountains”    It goes like this:

Laugh, I tell you

And you will turn back

The hands of time.

 

Smile, I tell you

And you will reflect

The face of the divine.

 

Sing, I tell you

And all the angels will sing with you!

 

Cry, I tell you

And the reflections found in your pool of tears –

Will remind you of the lessons of today and yesterday

To guide you through the fears of tomorrow.”

Our hopes and dreams should be sought today but we need to take faith in the tomorrow that they often bring.  Even when we seem to fail, we really are succeeding by gaining knowledge.  We need to embrace today and be open to the lessons that will promise us a better tomorrow.  The real blessings are found in living.

 

 

 

A Life’s Journey: The Ultimate Quest

A Life’s Journey: The Ultimate Quest

Lent 19, 20, 21

 

Treasure maps have thrilled human beings ever since the discovery of such (and no, we have no actual date for such).  If you believe the creation story of Adam and Eve, it might be said that their instructions were a mapping of sorts.  Certainly they sought the ultimate prize in partaking of the forbidden fruit.  Even the definition of a treasure map is something in dispute.  Many believe anything offering directions of some sort to an unknown prize qualifies as a treasure map.  If that is true, then the Beatitudes are a literary treasure map with living in peace the ultimate prize.

 

We are nearing the halfway mark of Lent and yet, for many, it has yet to begin.    Lent is a time of spiritual searching and for many, that involves giving up one of the comforts of their living.  Whether it is meat, chocolate, television, or something else, the purpose of the sacrifice is to realize there is a better way to live.

 

Embarking upon a treasure hunt also requires sacrifices.  First one must give up the idea that they know everything.  If one truly knew everything, it would be a simple matter of retrieval to go and pick up the treasure.  Since a search is involved, one obviously does not know everything, including the location of the treasure. 

 

One of the earliest treasure maps found was among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It was found in 1952 near Qumran among the 900-plus scrolls discovered on the site which is located in Israel’s West Bank region.  The treasure map is known as the copper scroll and true to its name, written not on papyrus as the other scrolls are but on metal.   Another distinguishing feature that sets this scroll apart from the others is that it is not literary but rather a listing of locations where various items of gold and silver can be found.  This particular treasure map was found one hundred years after the site at Qumran was first discovered and the text is not in the same Hebrew as most of the others, a fact which lends more mystery to the scroll itself.

 

There are many such treasure maps and excavations ongoing.  In the early 1920’s a young man who would grow up to become President even tried his hand.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt looked for treasure on Oak Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, following a trail of fortune hunters that dates back to 1795.

 

War and exploration resulting in the overtaking of indigenous tribes has also led to fortune hunting and treasure mapping.  From the treasures supposedly buries by the Spanish conquistadors in Lima, Peru to the hidden and never found Nazi gold at Lake Toplitz, Austria, seeking that elusive treasure of a lifetime has kept many people busy.

 

In our daily lives we also seek treasures, treasures of peace and contentment, love, and perhaps success.  We want to make our living count for something.  Forrest Fenn is a modern-day treasure seeker and, as his life reaches old age, he sought to make his explorations count for something.  He has offered treasure to anyone who can crack his treasure map, offered in the form of a twenty-four line stanza.

 

 Where the Treasure Lies  by Forrest Fenn

As I have gone alone in there

And with my treasures bold,

I can keep my secret where,

And hint of riches new and old.

 Begin it where warm waters halt

And take it in the canyon down,

Not far, but too far to walk,

Put in below the home of Brown.

 From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is ever drawing nigh;

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

Just heavy loads and water high.

 If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Just take the chest and go in peace.

 So why is it that I must go

And leave my trove for all to seek?

The answers I already know,

I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

 So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold.

  

I mentioned earlier that perhaps the Beatitudes offer us a treasure map.  After all, when we are mourning, they offer to us that we will end up with our own kingdom. That sounds a bit weird … unless we think of how we might interpret the verse.  Most of us will never be the ruler of an actual kingdom but the world also refers to our own realm or space.  When we grieve, we are acknowledging that we had something that has passed on.  In order to have had that special something, our life had to have meaning and reason.   In other words, we ruled something, created and obtained something of value. 

 

Ultimately, we all want our lives to have meaning and we want to find contentment and peace.  Perhaps the ultimate treasure hunt is our search for those very things.  Henry Fielding once said “I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches.”  Fielding lived in eighteenth century United Kingdom but his words are applicable to us today.   

 

Inner peace is not an impossible search to undertake.  Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of “Be the Change”.  They advise one take the following path in looking for inner peace and happiness.  “1.  Don’t take yourself too seriously. At times of hardship, such as loss or illness, it’s easy to lose your humor and even easier to get involved with the negative aspects of what is happening. Remembering not to take yourself too seriously brings a lightness and acceptance to the weight of circumstance around you. Don’t forget, angels can fly because they take themselves lightly!

 

“2. Don’t identify with suffering, loss, or illness as being who you are. Many of our participants realized how they’d been identifying themselves as a cancer survivor/widow/recovering addict, or whatever it may be, but had not asked who they were without that label or identity. When you don’t identify with the negative issues, then who you really are has a chance to shine.  3. It’s OK to be you, just as you are, warts and all. You may think you’re imperfect, a mess, falling apart, hopeless, or unable to cope. But true perfection is really accepting your imperfections. It is accepting yourself, complete with all the things you like as well as the things you don’t like. In this way you’re not struggling with or rejecting yourself. Each one of is unique, a one-time offer, but we can’t know this if we are facing away from ourselves.

 

“4. Make friends with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the only one you have that lasts for the whole of your life, and you can be the greatest friend or the worst enemy to yourself. So it’s very important not to emotionally put down or beat yourself up. Just be kind.  5. Feel everything, whatever it may be. When you are suffering, it’s easy to want to deny or repress your feelings, as they get huge and overwhelming. But if you can really honor whatever you are feeling then it’ll bring you closer to the inner happiness beneath the suffering or grief. Acknowledging and making friends with your real feelings is the greatest gift. 

 

“6. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Treasure yourself. These are big steps, but each one liberates the heart and sets you free. You need to forgive yourself for feeling angry, for getting upset, for all things you think you’ve done wrong. They are in the past and who you are now is not who you were then. You can take any guilt or shame by the hand, invite it in for tea, and open yourself to self-forgiveness.  7. Meditate. There is an overwhelming amount of research showing how meditation changes the circuits in the part of the brain associated with contentment and happiness and stimulates the “feel-good” factor. Meditating on love and kindness makes you much, much happier! And the only way to know this is to try it, so don’t hesitate.

 

Each day offers us a chance to give up the frivolous and take on the important.  When we live with faith and hope, we are on the path to finding the treasure of peace and happiness.  Gautama Buddha lived circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE but his words are perhaps the best treasure map of all.  “Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.”

 

 

Loss and Gain

Loss and Gain

Lent 18 (and 15)

 

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  I messed up.  It is not the first time and will not, I am certain, be the last but I did mess up.  I counted incorrectly, a problem when one works ahead and loses track of where one is and when something will be posted.  I could explain that there were technological issues as well as weather delays but the bottom line is… I messed up.

 

I could get all over on myself about the mistake.  I could listen to the voices inside my psyche that instantly begin to list others instances of my not being perfect.  Having been raised by a perfectionist parent, I don’t have to imagine those voices.  They are ever present, trust me.  It is almost as if, by messing up, I have lost a part of myself.

 

When we mourn, we feel an intense emotion.  Bereavement is described as something less severe but mourning is powerful, concentrated emotion that hits many of us in a number of different circumstances, not just when a loved one passes on or dies.  When I mess up, I mourn and that is followed by, typically, one of the stages of grief – anger.

 

There are those who try to tell us not to overthink when we mess up but sometimes we should.  It often is what keeps us from making the same mistakes over and over.  Grief has a purpose in our bank of emotions and we need to realize it and let ourselves experience it as part of the growing process.

 

Timothy Shriver is chairman of Special Olympics, an organization started by his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.  I like his thoughts on when we mess up:  “What’s to rationalize? You mean you shouldn’t pray if you haven’t got your s–t together? This is another fairly common misconception of faith, which is that people who go to church, or people who pray, or people who talk about their religion must be, somehow more pious or ethically rigorous or have more morally cleansed lifestyle. The high correlation is supposed to be between faith and your search, the depth of your search, your willingness to try, your willingness to admit error, your hope and belief in the ultimate meaning and value of that search.”

 

Are you holding yourself up to an impossible standard, one that disallows both messing up and grief?  When we lose someone or something, we feel sadness because the person or item had value in our lives.  We need to remember that we had the opportunity to have that someone or something special and find comfort in that knowledge.  Messing up simply means we had an opportunity to try something and that is often not something others can say they have had.  I messed up numbering my blog posts but I am still able to post.  The next day several people reposted that blog and I am grateful to them and overjoyed.  Realizing I messed up was not enjoyable but finding comfort in that the post got read and reposted was solace indeed.

 

I am not trying to say that losing a loved one is the same as a numerical mix-up.  It is not.  Both, however, are opportunities, prospects that life has given us to be explored, enjoyed, and valued.  There is much to be gained from spending time with a valued companion and from making mistakes.  Regret should not be part of the equation, though.  Never regret the time spent with someone or something for which you cared.  A mistake is simply a chance to grow and learn.  Both offer great comfort to me.