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.