RELIEF AND APPRECIATION

Photo by BK Farish

Photo by BK Farish

We all have dark days—and nights. Sometimes they last a day or two, other time the months slog by and it seems as if morning never comes. The black clothes in which we dress our bodies reflect the dark attire of our hearts.

In one of those times for me, I received lots of helpful directions. Some of them were appreciated, some of them were not. Some of the comments turned out to be true even when they rolled too easily off the tongues of those who shared them. 

One such comment was: “This too shall pass.” When I would despair of the density of the dark, I would comfort myself with those words. Even when it was hard, they reminded me that this feeling isn’t for always. I could hold on to the hope that dawn would someday come. I could feel some relief.

But, I have found that I am using that phase when the sun shines too. “This too shall pass.” I remind myself that the experience of beauty and grace that accompanies so many days of my life will not be here forever either. The gift of friendship is but a blip in time. The love of my wife is for the time we have. The ability to hear the strains of the symphony will fade with age. Seeing the face of my grandchild as she matures won’t last forever.

And when I say it with the wind whipping through my hair and the voice of Billy Joel blasting from my car radio, my heart breaks open in appreciation. I can’t hold on to it, but I can bow to it as it passes through my life. Grace comes in glimpses so i let it flood my soul. Because, “this too shall pass.”

MAKING YOUR DAY

Someone paid me a nice compliment recently. I responded, “Thanks, so much.  You made my day!!” I said it as a way of expressing appreciation for the kind remark.

But, I got thinking about my comment. What does it mean that other’s affirmation of me makes my day? To take it literally is a dangerous thing. The implication of this comment is that other people have the ability to make or break my day. My feelings about myself on this day are directly related to what someone else thinks about me. They have the power over me.

As I pondered this comment, I wondered what it might feel like to say to myself, “You made my day”?  What if I made my own day?  What would it be like to accept the responsibility for my own sense of well-being?

It seems as if I might have a better chance of determining my feelings about the day. If I love myself (and some days that is up some debate) then I can have far better days than if I wait for others to “make my day.”  

And if I make my own day, I am a better friend, partner, parent and companion. Because you see, when I determine my own sense of self, I am not always looking to others to do things for me. I can relate to others as they are, not as I need them to be so that I can feel good about my day.  I can love others for the gift they are to me, not so that they will do something so I can feel better about myself.

Self love is the source for other love. When I love myself and make my own day, I can accept others for who they are and love them as God made them.

THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE

I am always fascinated by the polls on the job-approval of the president of the United States. It moves up and down depending on the latest crisis and what the president might have been able to do about it.

What I find intriguing about the polls about this president is how many people who were excited about his being elected have been disappointed in his performance.  The energy was high in 2008.  It was less in 2012, but still there were people who believed that he could do something that would help improve the lives of people.

Now, I know that he made lots of promises when he was running for office. That is the nature of American political elections—promises. Politicians get elected on the basis of the future that they describe and the promises they make to bring about that kind of future.

But, the fact is, leading isn’t so much about making promises as it is achieving something. Someone once said that politics is the “art of the possible.” The ability to govern is related to accomplishing that which can be accomplished. It is not about fulfilling all the promises that are made in order to get elected.

And the ability to achieve the possible is determined in large measure by many factors that are not in the control of the one who makes promises to motivate our voting for them. The diversity of opinions that make up a free political process forces leaders to propose, listen, adjust, compromise and achieve what they can. The shrinking globe we live on creates political realities in other countries that limit the ability of our leaders to make a difference. Wise use of political power on issues where they can have an impact is important for leaders

So, I stay fascinated with the polls, but would wish people were a little more gracious toward those who are working to practice the “art of the possible.”

TRAVELING LIGHT

I awoke at the normal time. Stumbled into the kitchen, ground the coffee beans and put on the coffee. Feeling sluggish, I splashed cold water on my face. Did my stretching routine and went out to get the newspaper. Feels like weights on my feet. Did I gain weight? Go into the scales and weighted the same as always. 

Then I opened the newspaper. A police officer had been killed last night. Then it hit me—I hadn’t gained weight that would show up on the bathroom scales—it was a weight that rests in my heart. I had watched the news last night and the fighting in the Middle East was escalating. The governor of the state was declaring that the same-sex marriages that took place last month were not legal. More mass killings had taken place overnight.  

The weight I was carrying around was real—but would not show up on the scales. Are there any exercises that help me shed some of this kind of weight?

I have a few. Maybe you have some you would share. Mine include meditation where I seek to rest in a power greater than myself. I imagine the worries written on pieces of paper, taking them one at a time and setting them beside my chair. I hike in the woods and name the worries, scattering them among the fallen leaves. I hike beside the creek, putting my concerns on sticks and leaves and let them be carried down stream. I feel my body pressing on the bed, feeling my physical self holding my heart, strengthening my heart’s capacity to carry the weight that I can’t lay down. 

I have more energy and find that traveling light enables me to get more done. And it helps me open my eyes to beauty and grace that shares the globe with the pain and suffering. Loving life is easier when we are not weighted down with the burdens of all the world.

LIVING LARGE

The human spirit is a fickled energy. Sometimes it wants to curl up into a ball and hide from itself and the world. We like to build tiny houses so that the soul doesn’t have too much room to wander around and get lost. We want to play our cards close to the chest. 

And there are other times when we want to run outside and dance in the rain. The spirit feels confined by the predictable and the routine. We are sure that there must be more and our heart will burst if we can’t stretch our souls to embrace the whole world. 

How do we free the spirit to fly?  How do we face our fear of falling and climb to heights we have not experienced before? 

I wish I knew. I am sure it is different for each of us. For me, it helps to accept myself as fickled and learn to embrace the place I am. When I am tired, when there has been too much stimulus and too many changes all at once, I try to give myself permission to draw in. I try to be conscious of the my boundaries and the need to draw them with a darker pencil. I try to accept this is a time to live small, to steward my energy and protect my soul. 

And then when I get restless, when the space begins to feel suffocating, I start testing my spirit. How large does it want to live? What tickles my fancy? Is there a play we can go see?  How about a movie? A concert? Friends to invite over? Day trips to explore unfamiliar places? Longer trips to far away places? Service to provide? 

Since the days we have to live are relatively few, and the world we have been given is excessively large, I want to live large as many days as I can. I need tiny spaces to rest and gain strength, but the fantastic world is my dream.