Five years I wrote a brief post about turning 70 years old. Yesterday, I became 75. One of my friends in my writer’s group is also celebrating her 75th birthday in a few months. She is planning to write personal reflections about how life and times have changed since her childhood. My childhood is not something I want to reminisce about, but I do like the idea of reflecting on life at the three – quarters of a century mark. Here is how life in the past five years has changed me.
♥ I have learned to look for goodness everywhere. Even in political chaos. Even in sadness. Stunning examples of human courage and compassion can be found in the Mexican earthquake, during and after hurricane Maria’s devastating whirl through Puerto Rico, and even in the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. I’m realizing that focusing only on the darkness and evil in the world is soul-killing. And the world needs all the healthy souls it can find.
♥I have learned that a life without gratitude becomes rigid, cold, and judgmental. Gratitude is a muscle that must be strengthened and developed.
♥ I have learned that in every situation I have a choice. I am not acted upon; I choose how I will act – for good or for ill. Blaming others is self-deception.
♥ I have learned the truth of the statement that an “unexamined life is not worth living.” A daily inventory of what has been life-giving and what has been life-thwarting in my life offers me choices about who I want to become.
♥ I have learned to accept the fact that the hurts and wrongs and losses I’ve suffered have left their mark, but they do not need to become permanent scars. These hurts and wrongs are ingredients in the mix of who I am. Who I am has developed from those hurts as well as from the many blessings I have received. There is no value in wishing that I could change the recipe that made me who I have become. Instead, in my best moments, I remember that grace is in the struggle and I am grateful for the struggles.
♥ I have learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I can adapt when I need to. I can leave behind whatever is necessary to leave behind. I can be at peace with whatever challenges I have to face.
♥ I have learned to sit still – to read, to observe, to listen, and then to ponder and reflect. My soul is fed by “doing nothing” and often the “doing nothing” results in my doing something that would never occurred to me if I were not doing nothing.
♥ I have learned from Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr that doing the will of God is being open to cooperating with God in the creative acts God invites me to participate in. What I offer to God is the “hand that life and sin and circumstances” has dealt me. When I am open to the adventures the Holy Spirit offers me, I participate in a “divine synergy” which is “doing the will of God.”
♥ Finally, I learn everyday that I live in the available and coming Kingdom of God. No matter what happens to me, I am safe. Whenever I recognize that I am fearful, anxious, or controlling, I know I have stepped outside the boundaries of that kingdom. Surrendering those emotions as I recognize them puts me back on “the path of righteousness.”
So – I’ve turned another page of the calendar. I am eager to see what comes next.