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Not only mine, but tonight, the spirit of a dear friend. Do you think that as we age, our beliefs evolve just as our bodies and minds? As a teenager, I was firmly established in my own personal concept of faith, which encompassed many non-traditional beliefs, and which indeed still does. But lately, more and more, I have turned to words from the Bible and the strength of my friends who are so very firm in their faith that it is inspiring. I feel my spiritual perspective is expanding and compressing at the same time. Perhaps it is focusing in on something that is truly endless, and I am working at coming to terms with that seeming contradiction. I find prayer and God (or use whatever term you will) in the sky and the trees and the rocks and the sea. I look up during prayer, instead of down, with open eyes as if to catch the eye of God. I am reading the Bible and Anne Lamott at the same time. I am looking, not for answers, but for a deeper understanding of purpose, action, and what we can and cannot control. Are we indeed all grains of sand on a beach that God loves, forming into shells that house our bodies, and stones that reflect the clarity of light here and now, only to transform again into air and foam and and whatever form we will take next? Do we not even have the capacity to answer these questions to our own satisfaction – and is that in itself called faith?
Topsail Beach, North Carolina.
Quote of the day: ““if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” — Anne Lamott
Our own form of prayers
The easing of the migraine
The cricket in my bedroom
There are times in every person’s life that are transforming. They can be triggered by emotions, events, or age-related milestones – read, desperation, death of a loved one, or turning 18, for example. When these milestones appear in our lives – or we draw them to us – we have a lot of choices.
We can choose to cave in and cower. We can choose to run away. We can choose to adopt a victim mentality that may well define the rest of our lives. We can choose to make dramatic changes in our lives in terms of our location, relationships, and direction; sometimes those changes are well considered and sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions. I think regardless of how we approach those changes, they are essential to the process of completing whatever transformation we are undergoing.
Most of the time, we do not experience this transformation in some sort of isolation chamber. As we are struggling through it, and gasping for air, our inner panic (or lack of peace), and flailing through life will impact those around us. We may hurt people we love by whacking them with our wildly revolving selves. It’s not intentional, but yes, it happens.
And here’s where we can still have conscious choices, no matter where we are in the transformation process. When we hurt someone, they have every right to say something about it, even if they understand what we are going through. They may even say something that hurts us in return – not because they want to hurt us, because remember, they love us, but because they are speaking their pain. If we care for that person, we listen. We have a dialogue. We do not just turn and say, “How could you say that? Don’t ever speak to me again.” In short, we do not burn our bridges. That is, if we are seeking the path of wisdom, which I am. Which many of us are. We do not turn away from those who have long shown their humanness and devotion, from those who have shown themselves worthy of being a part of our lives, standing by us through thick and thin and all the meat-slicer settings in between.
As part of the path to wisdom, we apologize. We explain. We ask for patience. We take off our own blinders of pain and shame and guilt and anger at who-knows-what, and know that when we do so, our true friends will be right in front of us, arms extended, there for support, because we are not alone in this journey. Even though in some ways, we always are, and in other ways, we must be.
Again, it’s a choice. Leave the blinders on. Put the old life in a trunk, wrap it in chains, and send it to the bottom of the sea. Start over pretending you have a clean slate. I’ll wish you the best of luck, because you’ll need it. Or leave the doors open. Be gentle with yourself and others, because we’re all human. Take breaths and realize who is true to you and worth your spirit. Go back to the rules of kindergarten. I think one of those was “Don’t play with matches.” The adult version is, “For god’s sake, don’t set anything on fire.”
Transform, yes. But not by the light of the bridges you burn.
Words are the strongest tool in the world. Amazing how such a seemingly mundane thing – language – can have the power to strengthen someone or bring them to their knees.
If you spoke to me in Russian, I wouldn’t have a clue what you were saying. Say the same words in a language I understand, and they can bring me to tears or make my heart sing.
How much do we hear, really? Is it not just the words themselves? As someone joked in a meeting last week, “I don’t use letters. I use words.” Another attendee responded, “Jack, you do know that words are made up of letters, right?”
Yes, words are made up of letters. Letters themselves have no power. In fact words themselves are powerless. Read a word in a dictionary and it is flat. It is… just a word. But hear it spoken from the lips of someone for whom you care, or whom you view in a position of power, its meaning is infinitely altered. (And historically has been the source of all trouble in the world.) It is not just the tone, though that plays a part. Which leads me to wonder if the power of words is as strong if one uses sign language. It’s not just the context in which the words are spoken, the circumstances – no, it’s stil more than that.
It is the soul behind the words. Perhaps that’s what demarcates the difference between writers – how much of their own soul goes into the words upon a page. How much of their own truth are they willing to own.
How much are most people willing to look at their words and say,”I own that. I speak my truth. And now I’m brave enough to live it.”
I am. I don’t know a lot of truths about life anymore, but that I do know. When I say a thing, I mean it, heart and soul. I like that about me. I tend to hold the rest of the world to my own standards. I don’t know if that is fair, but I suspect most of us do so regardless.. I can make excuses for other people until the cows come home. (I know that about me too.)
Does that mean that I shouldn’t always believe what I am told? When I believe words that resonate within my own heart, am I being naive? Or am I having faith? Those who believe the words of the Bible can look around them and recognize that the actions of the world don’t fit the words in the good Book. Yet they still have faith in those words. Why should it be any different for any other set of words in which we have invested faith?
Just a thing for Thursday contemplation….