Friday, August 27, 2010

The Urgency of Gratitude

A man riding a motorcycle was struck by a truck and killed this morning right outside my office window on Beacon Street.  He most likely had no idea when he left his house this morning for his daily commute that his day and life would quickly come to an end, as we most likely will have no idea when our time on earth here will come to an end as well.

I am learning about the urgency of gratitude.  There is an urgent need to be grateful wherever you are, whatever situation you find yourself in, to be fully present in the present moment because you really have no idea just how many precious moments you have left.  If you knew that your life would abruptly come to an end soon would you change some things, spend less time complaining, walk away from some relationships?  Don't wait.  Do it now!  Most likely no one's going to tap you on the shoulder and tell you how much time you have left.  Life is a miracle and a precious gift; don't waste it.

I am alive and I've made a decision that while I am alive I am going to live, not merely exist but live!  I went to the bathroom and cried my eyes out when I heard the man didn't survive the accident.  He was a 37-year-old doctor and father of three.  It's so sad, but life has not ended for me yet.  I'm still here and I am going to enjoy this precious gift of life that God has given me and hasn't yet taken away.  I'm going off to lunch and I am going to enjoy every last bite.  I'm going to laugh TODAY.  I'm going to smile TODAY.  I'm going to enjoy the company of someone I love TODAY.  I choose to be grateful for every part of this day good or bad because who knows, I may not be here tomorrow.  Twenty four hours from now someone else could be blogging about how my life rapidly and unexpectedly came to an end.

Gratitude is an urgent matter.  You have less time than you think you do.  Be grateful TODAY.  Change the things in your life that make you unhappy.  Fill the present moment with gratitude because the present moment is all we ever have.

Following the Way,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Teaching Moment

My mother ended up being admitted to the hospital this past weekend and it was quite unexpected.  She was complaining of pain in her shoulder earlier in the week and somehow it traveled down to her leg.  The pain became so intense on Saturday that she couldn't walk or stand on her own so my sister took her to the hospital.  They didn't release her until yesterday when she became able to stand and walk on her own again.

I went to see her in the hospital and it was a scary thing to see my mom so immobilized.  She's such a strong woman and I'm just not used to seeing her so helpless.  It made me think of all the things I take for granted: the ability to stand and walk or take a shower without needing assistance from anyone.  So many of us take our health for granted until it starts to deteriorate.

It also was another reminder of my mother's mortality and the mortality of us all.  She's getting older and her body is beginning to fail her as my body will someday begin to fail me.  Seeing my mom lying helpless in the hospital also made me realize just how helpless we all are.  They are just so many things in life that are completely out of our control.  Having peace in this life requires a certain degree of trust and surrender.  You can't always control what will happen to you.

This situation was a teaching moment for me.  It taught me to be grateful for the many things I simply take for granted every single day.  It's a reminder that as much as I love my mom she doesn't belong to me; she belongs to God and one day whether it be sooner or later God will call her home and I must surrender to that inevitable truth.  I need to do a better job of cherishing the moments I have with her and all the people I love; they won't be here forever.  I'm grateful for this teaching moment for helping me see what's really important during this brief journey called life.  I'm striving to weave a posture of gratitude into my daily life whatever comes my way good or seemingly not so good.

Following the Way,

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Than I Can Bear

My beautiful niece Lia was born on Thursday, July 29 at 8:42 in the morning.  I was thrilled at the news and rushed to the hospital as soon as I got off work to welcome my niece into the world.  I can't quite describe it, but there's something so beautiful, spiritual and transcendent about being able to lay your eyes upon a human being during their first day on the planet!

Lia was so beautiful.  I could do nothing but stop and stare.  And for a moment I became enveloped in a holy silence brought about by a deep sense of awe and wonder.  It was so humbling.  Lia was small and largely silent, sleeping most of the time I was there, but she had such presence.  She radiated such peace and tranquility that seemed to fill the whole room and hover in the air.  It was almost too much to bear.  I thought, wow, what a gift to be able to be here at this moment and witness such beauty!  Every issue or problem I had just vanished from my mind and I realized I wasn't just in the presence of my niece but I was standing in the presence of Something much, much bigger than Lia and me.  What a gift!

I am grateful for Lia.  I am grateful for moments like these that help put things in perspective.  I am honored and humbled to be given the privilege of experiencing such richness in life.  The joy in my heart, the song in my soul, the peace in my spirit is almost more than I can bear and I am grateful.

Following the Way,

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Won't Complain

I was listening to a Gospel song on Sunday called "I Won't Complain" and I've heard it several times before, but this time it really struck me how grateful I am to God for all that God has done on my behalf.  The words are so simple and yet so true.  Here is the first verse:

I've had some good days
I've had some hills to climb,
I've had some weary days
I've had some weary nights
But when I look around
And I think things over
All of my good days
Outweigh my bad days
So I won't complain

If I had to add up all the time I've spent complaining about one thing or another I'd probably be shocked by all the time I've completely wasted doing something that produces nothing: complaining.  Complaining accomplishes nothing; resolves nothing; produces nothing, so why waste your time doing it?

"If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally."
Eckhart Tolle

These are wise words indeed!  Why complain about a situation when you can change it?  And if you can't change it then you can either accept it as it is or walk away.  Anything else is insanity and a huge waste of time and energy.

You are precious and your limited time here on earth is precious as well.  Don't waste it on something as small, petty and useless as complaining.  You deserve infinitely more than that!

Following the Way,

Monday, August 2, 2010

August's Theme: Gratitude

It's been a long time since I've written anything here with the exception of my last entry.  Sorry about that!  For the month of August I'd like to focus on gratitude.

Gratitude is so much more than saying thank you when someone does something nice for you.  Gratitude is a way of living, a way of looking at the world.  It's a radical choice to focus on the good despite all the chaos and mayhem that often surround us in life.  It is quiet and subtle and yet deeply spiritual, transformative and powerful.  It's like a tiny stream of water that overtime bores a hole through the rock.  The art of practicing gratitude daily has the power to transform not only a moment, not only a day in your life, but your entire life itself.  Bit by bit, day by day, simple daily gratitude softens the heart and stretches the soul.

Gratitude is a path that leads to life, joy and contentment.  Why don't you start the journey today? Find something to be grateful for today.  Despite of all the things that may be going wrong stop and be still for a moment and focus on one thing that's going right and be grateful for it.  Feel this gratitude deeply within you and let it flow from the inside out.  It just might make all the difference.

Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Following the Way,