Purpose

Purpose

Easter 47

 

“When there is a great disappointment, we don’t know if that is the end of the story.  It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”  Pema Chödrön is an American Tibetan Buddhist who is also an ordained nun. Her words are important for us to remember as we walk our path of mindfulness.

 

It is not always delightful to be fully present in particular moments of our lives.  Sometimes it is painful and to accept the reality of the pain can be difficult.   Pema Chödrön has some advice for such times.   “Rejoicing in the good fortune of others is a practice that can help us when we feel emotionally shut down and unable to connect with others. Rejoicing generates good will.”

 

We have a choice in how we experience the world, even if we do not have the choice of what, where, and when the world meets us.  We still have a choice and some control because we can choose and control our reactions.   Life is not the series of events that we find ourselves in the midst of without any say.  Life does include those events but it also includes how we respond to them.

 

We are the author of our own lives and mindfulness helps us write our own story.  We are not and should not be merely puppets in the story of our life.  We need to be director, producer, main actor, and yes, script writer.    We should also be the musical director and lighting coordinator, makeup artist and caterer.  What?  How do we do all that?

 

The director tells an actor where to go and how to portray the character.  We need to direct our lives, making choices of what we do and how we do it, including how we respond.  The producer helps prepare for the production and handles the detail stuff.  We cannot live blindly; we must take care of the “small stuff”.  Skipping the script writer for now, let’s move onto the music in our lives.  Mindfulness is especially helpful here as we listen to our world and take in the beautiful sounds of living – birds chirping, ducks splashing, children laughing and yes, even the sounds of grief in muffled sobs.  We set out own stage by our choices in life and we either see the world around us lit up in all its glory or we turn off the lights and dwell in darkness and despair.  The face we present to the public is the demeanor or make-up we put on every day.  The food choices we make go a long way in determining our health.

 

These are all mindful decisions we make each and every day.  We need to be aware of them and make them responsibly.    That takes up back to the script writer.  How are you writing the story of your life?  A recent scientific study defined mindfulness as “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment.”

 

What is your purpose and what do you want it to be tomorrow?  By living and practicing mindfulness, your awareness of your life experiences will help make the future successful and a much happier place to be.  Mindfulness affords one to have less stress and a healthier living, things that should be among our top three reasons for being.  Health becomes more positive and productive as do relationships.  Simply put, the purpose for mindfulness is to experience life more fully and with positive results.

Value versus Worth

Value versus Worth – Journaling

Easter 25-30

 

“The world seems to think I have no worth.  It seems to think that some people are worth more, that their substance means more, that their very being should give them certain privileges because they will contribute more.  The person who seems to be content is often overlooked.  If one feels one’s life is full enough, then one lacks value.  Living has become a race to the top of the mountain of possessions.  I quit.  I refuse to run that race.  My faith tells me I have value even if the world believes me to be insignificant.”

 

The above journal entry might seem to be an argument against mindfulness but actually, it is a great defense for being mindful.  Worth is often used as a synonym for the word value and sometimes, vice versa.  They are, however, two very different words, at least for our context of mindfulness.

 

The term value denotes importance while the word worth refers to the price or cost of an item or its usage.   “The word ‘value’ is used in the sense of ‘importance’. On the other hand, the word ‘worth’ is used in the sense of ‘the cost of production’ of a particular thing or the ‘greatness’ of a particular person. This is the main difference between value and worth.”  This quote from differencebetween.com, written by the author Aron, is an interesting explanation but I am not certain I agree.  Do you?  I would really like to hear your ideas on this.

 

For our purposes with this post and our series on mindfulness, value will be defined as the intrinsic amount of feeling an item/person brings to us while worth I’m defining as the effect it has on us, whether in terms of actual cost or perceived price.  Keeping a mindfulness journal helps us delineate between the two.

 

I have mentioned keeping a mindfulness journal before and someone asked I explain the difference between it and a diary or regular journal.  Just as the terms worth and value can be used interchangeably, journals can also serve various purposes.  A diary is both a calendar of events and a listing of hopes and desires.  A regular journal is often a tracking of a day’s events or thoughts.  The mindfulness journal helps us focus on specific moments and includes not only the event but our reactions, visceral and consequential.

 

The manner in which you keep your journal can be as varied as there are different riding a city bus.  In other words, you need to do what is best for you.  Before we discuss methods of journaling, though, let’s discuss why we would do such.  Keeping a daily log of your thoughts and feelings based on each event or creating lists that you can add to over time, such as the happiest moments of your life, the people that make you happiest, what motivates you, and what you love most about yourself will help you take action towards making your dreams a reality.  It can illustrate the difference in the worth of an activity and the value it holds in your life and help eliminate what is not productive in your living.

 

The best way to accomplish something is to set goals and a mindfulness journal will help you set achievable goals.  It can also verify that what you have set as a goal is rely something you want to accomplish.  Often we end up striving for something that someone else has decided we need.  Because our own heart is not in this quest, it will take forever and most likely not be successful.  A mindfulness journal can also help identify those things that are hindrances or annoyances.  By keeping track of such, they can be eliminated and dealt with before they become larger, more stressful issues.

 

Life is, as I have said before, messy.  No one lives without encountering frustrations and most of us face them on a daily basis.  Sometimes they seem to overwhelm us.  If you are constantly losing things, important things like bills to pay, a mindfulness journal can help identify this and with some forethought, help correct the problem.  Maybe you need to clear off a shelf and designate a certain basket or box for those bills.  By placing a table by the door I most often use and putting a bowl specifically for my keys, I stopped needing to search for them when I was leaving the house.  That one small thing saved me five minutes or more each morning.  That added up to me gaining over an hour each week and I left the house less hurried and harried.

 

A mindfulness journal is a great motivator and often can serve as the catalyst for necessary change.  Many think of mindfulness as a first cousin to meditation and I agree with that.  However, one of my favorite mindfulness writers is a financial analyst, not a yoga or spiritual teacher.  Andrea Cannon recommends mindfulness journal for this reason:  “Once you begin to realize a trend in your journal entries, you’ll want to make a list of the problems you’ve noticed and what actions you’re going to take to correct them. Fixing items around your home, workspace, and vehicle can help change your day-to-day life and can save you time and frustration. In most cases, people tend to wonder why they waited so long to make the repairs in the first place.  Procrastination is likely what made these small daily frustrations a larger problem over time. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of what needs to be changed and what steps you’re taking towards achieving these goals in a timely manner.”

 

When we journal, we put a spotlight on our day and become more aware of it.  yes it does take time but how we journal can help with just how much time.  As I said before, there are a variety of ways to journal.  One of my favorite is to get a family day planner, with columns for various family members.  Instead of using the column for each family member, though, use them for different categories.  For instance, one column is for the actual activity or scheduled event.  The next is for whether it was successful or not – no explanations, just a yes or no to the success of the incident.  The next column is for how I felt approaching it, the next for how I felt doing it, the next for the results and my feelings about that.  Then the next column is a quick, briefly worded assessment about hindrances and finally, a column for new goal(s). 

 

Here is an example of this type of journaling:

Column A/Event: Doctor’s appointment

Column B/Successful: Yes; kept the appointment

Column C/Feelings leading up to event: Bit of trepidation

Column D/Feelings during event: Informed

Column E/Feelings after event: Hopeful; positive

Column F/Hindrances: Diet changes bothersome

Column G/Goals: Eliminate eating an entire pizza, eating one slice and a small salad instead.

 

Your journal does not have to be formal.  If you would rather have an informal journal, then any blank or lined notebook will suffice.  There are a few brief formalities that precede any entry – the date, the name of the meditation practice, and how long you meditated for. Then you can write more generally about how the practice went – what distractions you had, what you did about them; what positive factors (like calmness, patience, concentration, etc.) that were present and what you did to strengthen them. You can write about factors in your life that had an effect on your practice – things like lack of sleep, or a particularly busy day, or that you felt refreshed after a day’s hiking with a friend. 

 

Mindfulness is about knowing where we are (being in the moment) and also about maintaining an awareness of where we have been (reflection) and where we are going (having goals).  A journal can help us with all of those areas of awareness, helping us to have a more unified awareness of ourselves.  An example of an informal journal might look like this: “Mindfulness of Breathing. 25 minutes. Had a hard time staying focused. Nodded off to sleep a few times — hadn’t had enough sleep. Felt a bit despondent. 

 

Psychotherapist Dr. Ronald Alexander offers these tips of journaling. 

• Schedule your time to write when you sit quietly in a peaceful, restful place, perhaps in a room surrounded by books and pictures that inspire you. You may also want to sit on a meditation chair or cushion with peaceful music playing, wrap yourself in a meditation shawl or blanket, and light a candle or incense.

• Categorize what your mind churns up. Our minds create a mix of emotions, thoughts, and sensations, all of which influence each other. The thought, “My boss is so insensitive; I can’t believe he was so abrupt with me today,” might not surface in your mind until you sit and begin meditating, and might appear not as a fully formed thought but as a headache or an overall sense of vulnerability and defensiveness.

• In meditation, it’s important not to go wherever those sensations and feelings take you but to simply sit with them, allowing them to reveal themselves. Afterward, as you write in your journal about your experience, work with a therapist, or ponder where that feeling or sensation came from, you might discover that it has deeper roots.

• Recognizing that your experience bears a powerful emotional resemblance to a past experience can be a helpful and freeing insight, but in the end, the story of its origin is just a story that can distract you from healing. If you come to realize that your defensiveness around your gruff boss reminds you of the way you reacted to your highly critical father, the value in that insight is acknowledging how deeply your mind has been programmed to respond to criticism or abruptness with fear and defensiveness. It’s easier to be patient with yourself when you recognize that your mind has actually created an elaborate neural network to support this reaction, because clearly, it will take time, patience, and repetition to change that instantaneous response.

• Don’t give too much weight to such a revelation as you can reinforce that reality. You reinforce your habitual thinking and feeling patterns when you subscribe to a narrative of suffering such as, “I can’t help being the way I am. My defensiveness goes way back to my childhood.” I call this the “big story.” It has the potential to shut you off from the art of creative transformation.

• Once you’ve identified the big story, categorize it as “old stuff” and set it aside whenever it comes up. The major healing work most people need to do is to transform and move beyond their “big story” whether it deals with their parents, lack of abundance, insecurities or fears. There’s no benefit in retelling it to yourself over and over again.

• It’s also important to let go of the “new stuff”: each “small story,” or rationalization for why your present life is the way it is. The small stories are worth examining to discover what lessons they hold, but if you hang on to them, repeating them to yourself, they become “old stuff” and part of the big story as well.

“As long as you remain in these stories, you create suffering for yourself. To change your life, you have to see the story for what it is: a way of framing events that doesn’t contribute to your happiness and holds you back from positive change. Holding on to your story, big or small, giving it life in retelling and embellishing it endlessly, will cause you pain. The point isn’t whether or not you’re justified in telling that particular story, or its veracity, but whether you’re suffering because of it. This takes practice but the more you meditate the more it will feel as if you’re simply sorting the laundry as you observe what your mind generates.”

 

Andrea Cannon explains the benefits of a mindfulness journal.  “A mindfulness journal can help you focus on the things in life that make you happy so you live with an attitude of gratitude. Rather than focusing on a crowded train, you can instead focus on the song you’re listening to and how it makes you feel, your posture while you sit and wait for your next stop, and what you’re looking forward to in your day. Over time, this will become natural so you can turn negative moments into positive experiences no matter what the day may bring.”

 

With a mindfulness journal we can begin to understand the difference between value and worth.  The opening paragraph was taken from a journal of someone who had contemplated suicide.  Fortunately, the writer realized that their value exceeded the world’s perception of their worth.  We all are valuable to this planet and no one has the right to diminish your feelings of self-worth.  Mindfulness reminds us of our own purpose and right to a prosperous living.  Start journaling and find your joy!

 

 

 

The Next Step

The Next Step

Easter 7

 

Okay so let’s say you have really thought about the last hour and fully been in the moments of each of those sixty minutes.  You fully experienced that sip of beverage and felt is as it entered and then followed its course through your throat.  You smelled that bite of food before partaking it and then thought about the texture and taste instead of gulping it down in a hurry.  You felt that air on your skin as you walked outside and heard the ambient sounds around you.  What comes next?

 

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, scholar, and human rights activist, who was nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. His books include “Being Peace”.  Nhat Hanh describes the process as being mindful as much more than just thinking about things.  “Mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives. You don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of your daily life. There are those of us who are alive but don’t know it. But when you breathe in, and you are aware of your in-breath, you touch the miracle of being alive. That is why mindfulness is a source of happiness and joy.

 

“Most people are forgetful; they are not really there a lot of the time. Their mind is caught in their worries, their fears, their anger, and their regrets, and they are not mindful of being there. That state of being is called forgetfulness—you are there but you are not there. You are caught in the past or in the future. You are not there in the present moment, living your life deeply. That is forgetfulness.

 

“The opposite of forgetfulness is mindfulness. Mindfulness is when you are truly there, mind and body together. You breathe in and out mindfully, you bring your mind back to your body, and you are there. When your mind is there with your body, you are established in the present moment. Then you can recognize the many conditions of happiness that are in you and around you, and happiness just comes naturally.

 

Nhat Hanh believes we are all entitled to being happy.  Many people do not.  They would rather wallow in their self-pity because it seems comfortable to them.  The next step after you have been mindful for an hour is to be brave and practice mindfulness for a day. 

 

Nhat Hanh explains:  “During the time you are practicing mindfulness, you stop talking – not only the talking outside, but the talking inside. The talking inside is the thinking, the mental discourse that goes on and on and on inside. Real silence is the cessation of talking – of both the mouth and of the mind. This is not the kind of silence that oppresses us. It is a very elegant kind of silence, a very powerful kind of silence. It is the silence that heals and nourishes us.”

 

The next step is to believe you deserve the right to be happy and let the silence teach you.  Listen ot the advice of this monk.  “Mindfulness practice should be enjoyable, not work or effort. Do you have to make an effort to breathe in? You don’t need to make an effort. To breathe in, you just breathe in. Suppose you are with a group of people contemplating a beautiful sunset. Do you have to make an effort to enjoy the beautiful sunset? No, you don’t have to make any effort. You just enjoy it.  The same thing is true with your breath. Allow your breath to take place. Become aware of it and enjoy it. –  Effortlessness; Enjoyment. The same thing is true with walking mindfully. Every step you take is enjoyable. Every step helps you to touch the wonders of life, in yourself and around you. Every step is peace. Every step is joy. That is possible.”  When you achieve that, then your step will be one of joy.

From Victim to Victorious

From Victim to Victorious

Lent 16-17

 

He was born a Roman citizen to parents Conchessa and Calpurnius.  The Roman Empire extended from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean and his home was not near Rome but in the Roman British lands.  As a young teen he was kidnapped and forced into child labor by pirates.  The life was hard and unfair – the makings for a deep need to extract violence as payback and yet …

 

The Romans probably had little idea of who they were conquering when they invaded Britain and Ireland.  The Celtic and Druid culture centered on their pagan gods and goddesses and magic was an integral part of their beliefs, a magic that the Romans believed came not from good but evil.  The Romans destroyed the Celtic and Druids’ religious sites and when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, many Britons converted.  

 

It was to this culture that a child named Patrick was born.  The exact location is disputed but we know he was born an aristocrat.  His family was second-generation Christians and Patrick was well educated.  One fateful day he and his father’s servants were taken prisoner and his life changed dramatically.  In an instant he went from living a life of luxury to that of servitude and despair.

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom.”  The first Beatitude seems contradictory and, let’s face it, a bit defeatist.  Do I have to be in dire straits to win the prize?  Certainly the millions who purchase lottery tickets might argue with that reasoning since seldom do any win.  I know of no other human living or deceased whose life portrays this Beatitude better than that of Patrick, the saint whose day is celebrated today.

 

It is said that Patrick believed “If I have any worth, it is to live my life, so as to teach these peoples, even though some of them still look down on me.”  Today his life will be celebrated worldwide with the wearing of green, symbolic of the country from which the pirates who enslaved him sailed and the country to which he returned to share his faith and spirituality.

 

Patrick wrote that he saw his escape in a dream and he did indeed escape and return to his family.  He did remain in Britain, however.  He would return to minister to the Irish and to share his creed for living.  His life remains shrouded in mystery with many things attributed to him, including the banishment of all snakes from Ireland.  What is known is that in the midst of his troubles and captivity, Patrick found solace in his beliefs and faith.  “I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s host to secure me against snares of devils, against temptations of vices, against inclinations of nature, against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.”

 

You might argue that someone with such conviction was never truly “poor in spirit” and I would understand that interpretation. I would offer, nonetheless, that there were days in which Patrick sorely felt downtrodden and exhausted and in that, his physical spirit did indeed seem poor. 

 

He serves to represent to me a living testament of how although we might be victims of another’s cause, we alone control the effect it has on us.  The man known as Saint Patrick, in whose honor many will celebrate today with parades and parties, wanted us all to find strength in our faith and beliefs.  We truly inherit the kingdom when we live with such assurance.  We all are victims, at one time or another, of something beyond our control.  With conviction, though, we can write a life story that, like Patrick’s, will be victorious, not just for ourselves but for others. 

Mess, Mayhem, and Order

Mess, Mayhem, and Order

Lent 14

 

My computer sits on a desk which is, like many, cluttered.  The assortment of things comprising that clutter changes from time to time but there are always three things which remain constant nearby.  There are, in no particular order, a palm-size wooden cross made by a gentleman with Alzheimer’s as a thank you for a thank you note I wrote to him; a set of hand weights; and a coloring desk calendar.  These items are not apparent to someone looking at my desk but there represent a sense of order and purpose to me.

 

Today is Pi Day.  It is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.  Albert Einstein is regarded worldwide as a genius but he wasn’t always thought of so highly.   Too poor to marry his first love, with whom he would go on to have three children, Einstein challenged the current thinking in practically everything he did.  The German-born physicist Albert Einstein developed the first of his groundbreaking theories while working as a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Bern. After making his name with four scientific articles published in 1905, he went on to win worldwide fame for his general theory of relativity and a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his explanation of the phenomenon known as the photoelectric effect.

 

 An outspoken pacifist who was publicly identified with the Zionist movement, Einstein emigrated from Germany to the United States when the Nazis took power before World War II. He lived and worked in Princeton, New Jersey, for the remainder of his life.  By the time Einstein’s wife Elsa died in 1936, he had been involved for more than a decade with his efforts to find a unified field theory, which would incorporate all the laws of the universe, and those of physics, into a single framework. In the process, Einstein became increasingly isolated from many of his colleagues, who were focused mainly on the quantum theory and its implications, rather than on relativity.

 

Einstein, who became a U.S. citizen in 1940 but retained his Swiss citizenship, was never asked to participate in the resulting Manhattan Project, as the U.S. government suspected his socialist and pacifist views. In 1952, Einstein declined an offer extended by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s premier, to become president of Israel.  Throughout the last years of his life, Einstein continued his quest for a unified field theory. Though he published an article on the theory in Scientific American in 1950, it remained unfinished when he died, of an aortic aneurysm, five years later. In the decades following his death, Einstein’s reputation and stature in the world of physics only grew, as physicists began to unravel the mystery of the so-called “strong force” (the missing piece of his unified field theory) and space satellites further verified the principles of his cosmology.

 

These snippets of biography of the life of Albert Einstein are from the History.com website but they are found in every science book and encyclopedia worldwide.  Famous pictures of a disheveled Einstein are found in most schools and he has come to epitomize the essence of an “absent-minded professor”.  Einstein was not asked to participate in the Manhattan Project because those in charge both doubted and feared his pacifist views.  He invoked respect and nervousness from his colleagues and was not universally regarded as the great mind of science he is today until a decade after his passing.

 

Today is March 14th or 3.14 as it is written in some calendars.  The mathematical constant pi is a real number defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference C to its diameter.  Regardless of the size of the circle, pi remains the same.  A number that goes on in infinity, it is, roughly speaking, written as 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679… 

 

So what does the mess on my desk, the mayhem of Einstein’s theories (a mayhem that proved to be truth), and the order that pi gives the world have to do with each other?  The same thing the Beatitudes offer us – reason.  You see, regardless of what else gets piled up on my desk, I know that they is a tool for meditation at hand – my palm-sized cross.  While the cross is a symbol with meaning, it is who made it and why that really helps me focus and brings order and reason to my moment and being.  A man not well-known to me at all found, in the throes of his declining mental ability that Alzheimer’s brings, a new talent in woodworking.  Being touched by a note I wrote to him, one of many such notes I had written, he shared that talent with me in gratitude, reminding me that we all have a reason to give thanks.

 

The weights and the calendar are things to do when confronted with the complexities and idiosyncrasies of technology.  They remind me that I can either sit or get mad or I can be patient and find something constructive to do.  Pi brings order to the circle of life, an order that Albert Einstein suspected and proved.  Without the chaos, there would not have been a need for his studies.  Without the issues we confront daily, issues mentioned in the Beatitudes, there would be no need for introspection, mediation, spiritual growth, and discernment.

 

On this day, celebrate the messiness of a pizza pie or the smoothness of a quiche with its perfect pi and delectable circumference.  Then rejoice with a fruit pie.  The pizza will be messy because every good pizza is and the quiche will combine what seems to be a pandemonium or mayhem of different ingredients.  Finally, though, the dessert pies will be made to order with the precision that baking requires.  Life requires some precision to deal with its messes and mayhem.  It is the mess, the mayhem and the resulting order that binds us together.  It is when we are at our most vulnerable that we truly discover the meaning of life and our need for each other. 

 

Post Script:  Well, you are probably reading this on March 15th because….life got messy, Mother Nature flexed her muscles,  and technology messed me up.  The thing is… Every day is Pi Day because Pi is a constant.  Just as our living should be about goodness and kindness as our constant, pi will always be 3.14 and while my own March 14th has been more akin to the Idea of March, March 15th, I take heart in knowing that regardless of the actual date, there are constant is our lives that help us navigate the messes and mayhem and bring order.

Life Relatable

Life Relatable

Lent 10

 

Not having been there at the time the Beatitudes were originally said, I do not know for sure why they were ever spoken.  However, I think it safe to surmise that they were felt to be pertinent and important for the audience to hear.  While they were uttered almost two thousand years ago, I do think they are still relatable.  Today, I am featuring a guest post, written by a college student several years ago.  In it this student explains why the Beatitudes are just as pertinent today as when they were first spoken.  Life was messy then.  Life is messy now, regardless of who we are.

 

“Sometimes I just can’t relate to the Bible. To be clear, I like the Bible. The stories are engaging, scandalous, and funny (well, if you can decipher 1st century humor), with good morals and memorable characters. So while I do like the Bible, I don’t always feel like I can relate to it. I have little in common with the authors: kings and prophets sent to inspire the masses with divine intervention when things got rough. I don’t know about you, but I’m no prophet. I’m barely a king.

 

“So while I do like the Bible, often when I read it I do so as though I would read a novel about Afghanistan or an article about outer space: a interesting story about a different world that I will never see. The story may be real, but it is very far away, the people are not like me, and the surroundings are not familiar—while I may have sympathy, I cannot have empathy. It is like a news report that I read, murmur a judgment on, and discard, already forgotten, as I move on to the next. However, in today’s passage from Psalm 44, the saints and martyrs with whom I have nothing in common are gone. In their place is a scared, lonely, confused individual, someone who is struggling to understand why God is so silent while they are suffering. This is a very human passage written by a very vulnerable human. This is a passage I can relate to.

 

“Lent is a funny time, but it is necessary. We spend so much of our lives pretending that everything’s okay, masking our pain and confusion, thinking that everyone else seems to have life figured out, so we should, too. However, I believe that it is in being truly vulnerable that we find our greatest strength. It is in letting others see just how scared, lonely, and confused we really are that we allow them to do the same. Once we let each other in behind the walls of confidence and brave faces only then can we truly begin to build each other up, to rely on each other. If you get a chance these next 40 days of Lent, be vulnerable. It’s scary, and uncomfortable, and takes far more faith than you would imagine. It’s what Lent is all about. Be vulnerable. After all, isn’t that something we can all relate to?”

 

I think the Beatitudes are pertinent because they are words we can all relate to and understand.  They speak of misery, of pain, of unfulfilled goals and yet, within each of those things, there is hope and a reason to forge ahead through life’s messes.  Few of us are kings and even fewer prophets and yet, we all get scared, lonely, discouraged.  By keeping our faith, we can find the strength to carry on with our living and discover success.  More on the treasure hunt of life in the next post.  Until then, be vulnerable.  It is something we all find relatable.

 

Stuff Happens

Stuff Happens

Lent 9

 

IN the movie “Forrest Gump”, the lead character runs across the United States.  The reaction to run was born out of a childhood spent being bullied and the advice of a neighborhood friend to “Run, Forrest, Run!”  The cross country trek is undertaken after the death of his beloved mother.  The feeling of being lost overwhelms the character Forrest and so he undertakes a journey to find himself.  During a moment of rest another traveler approaches him, stepping in a pile of manure as he does so.  The character Forrest then says an iconic phrase:  “Shit happens.”

 

Our trajectory of life is not a smooth course.  While each generation is convinced theirs is the most difficult, the fact is that life has never been an easy uphill climb.  The history of the world bears out the fact that stiff happens, shit happens, and we need to deal with it.  One such example is grief.  Queen Elizabeth II is reported to have once said “Grief is the luxury and result of having loved.”  It is.  Blessed are those who grieve because they had something they loved and have now lost.

 

Benjamin Disraeli once remarked that “grief is the agony of an instant, the indulgence of grief the blunder of a life.”  This is why we have the Beatitudes.  They remind us of this very fact.  Life has its moments of unpleasantness but it is only when we roll around in them and become comfortable in them that they become our life.   When we give them the correct attention, they are simply steps along our journey, not the destination.

 

The goodness of grieving is found in the essence of why we grieve – love and goodness.  I myself am horrible at goodbyes so grief is something I could easily become lost in, a destination instead of a moment.  Moving on does not mean we no longer love.  It simply means that we have valued the love and now are using it to live.

 

“Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.”  It may not seem like a blessing to mourn but the blessing comes from having something to mourn, for realizing what we had that is now different.  True love never dies but it does change.  When life happens and we no longer have what we once had in the same form, we learn to move on and find comfort in realizing that whatever it is for which we grieve, we really still have it.  The goodness of love is that it never dies, just takes on a new form.

 

Stuff happens and sometimes life gets icky, sticky messy.  When we grieve properly, we find ourselves moving on in our tears.  The knowledge that love improves our living is not new but using it to grieve and then move forward might be.  The same motivation love provided is still there.  IT is never good to indulge in anything that does not strengthen us.  Blessed are those who view love for the eternal beauty it offers and then move one to spread it and recreate it in the new day.