Posts Tagged joyful

The Shiny Side Up! Rev. Susan Sparks – “Life”

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you had a lovely holiday.

Recently, I saw an image on Pinterest that said “Life*” at the top, then underneath, in small print by the asterisk, it said: “Available for a limited time only, limit one per customer, subject to change without notice, provided ‘as is’ without any warranties, your mileage may vary.”

While this was meant as something to make people laugh, it actually packed a powerful message. Amazingly, we tend to believe that life comes with some type of warranty that promises things will always be easy, fun and painless. And when it’s not, we complain—incessantly.

We complain about the weather. “OMG, it’s so cold, when will it ever stop?” Then, two months later we carp: “OMG, it’s so hot and humid, when will it ever stop?”

We whine that the trains and buses are late. We moan that people are rude, the stock market hasn’t done well, or that the grocery store is out of our favorite item. Recently, I was at Whole Foods and I heard a woman complaining to the manager that they were out of her “soy milk substitute.” First of all, what is soy milk substitute? And second, why would anyone want it?

We waste so much time complaining about the superficial things that we miss precious seconds, hours, days, even years of our life. It’s like the Jewish prayer: “Days pass and years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles.” We must be grateful in the good times and the bad, for, in the end, it’s still life.

Warnings like “life is short,” get greeted by eye rolls and shrugs. Yes, we’ve all heard this saying many times—which I think is part of the problem. I’m afraid we have heard it so much that we have become immune to it.

But there is urgency in those three short words. Things can change in the blink of an eye. We don’t know what is going to happen from one day to the next. We don’t know if we will be given tomorrow—or even the rest of today. Just look at the headlines: random shootings, tornados that tear apart entire towns, soaring cancer statistics. Life – is – short.

It is also sacred. The Psalmists offered this wisdom: “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13-14). Life is the greatest, most sacred gift we have. Sure you may think other things are important, but if you didn’t wake up this morning, then what difference would it make?

Life is short. Life is sacred. And, because of that, it should be celebrated in the good times and the bad. It doesn’t matter where you find yourself: a long line at the DMV, the dentist chair or the chemo room, it’s still life and there is joy to be found in the simple taking of a breath.

The author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote, “People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

Find that light. Strive to be grateful in all circumstances. Use that gratitude to inspire and lift up others who are mired in difficulty.

We were never guaranteed that life would be easy, or fun, or painless. Yet, even in the pain, we can be grateful for the simple gift of being alive. And, if you find yourself struggling, use these few words as your mantra: “it’s still sacred, it’s still a gift, it’s still life.”

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Skunk Hour – The Rev. Deborah Meister* – The Daily Cup

Skunk Hour
 Oct 12, 2016 07:40 am

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Two weeks ago, I was sitting on a bench in a field, watching the sun come up over the river. A thick mist rose from the water and made the field, the trees, the hills, the river itself vanish into a gray haze. Near the river, I saw three tree-stumps, which then began to move. The fog had been so thick that I had not been able to see that they were deer.

After a space, there was movement: a frisking and frolicking somewhere near my feet. I looked over and saw a skunk, dancing its way along the ground. It was small and delicate; its white stripe painted jauntily over thick black fur. It hopped and skipped and smelled the flowers.

I don’t think I’d ever been that close to a skunk before. (It’s not wise.) And so it had never occurred to me that they might be joyful creatures. All we ever hear about is the stench: fear and reaction, and lingering soggy shame. But my eyes were opened to the beauty that was there, beyond my fears, beyond my stereotypes, in the real and living beauty of God’s world.

So much of our experience is like that, I think. It is so easy to take one thing, one event, and let it color your sense of a whole person or community. Sometimes, I guess, that’s appropriate. I would never urge a person to be alone with someone who had assaulted him or her, or pretend that there was nothing sick in Weimar Germany. But most of time, taking that narrow view merely deprives us of much that is good.

The person who let you down still has a rest of their life. The community that is facing change may well grow in ways that are more beautiful and sustaining than it has ever been before. All we can do is trust and hope — and work for the future we want, maybe even beside people who have failed us before. After all, each of us needs to be redeemed, and the hope we long for in our own lives is the same hope that nurtures others through their bitter, dark nights.

There s one Hope, and one Future. And when we get near it, the very thing we dread might surprise us by dancing.

“The Rev. Deborah Meiister serves as rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. The Daily Cup is one of my favorite blogs. This post is used with her permission.

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