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.”