Today I was stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be, doing something I didn’t want to do for over 6-hours! A quarter of my day was spent enduring, trying to stay calm, doing much breathing exercises and practicing stillness.
This wasn’t my plan for this day. I had it all laid out and then boom! From out of nowhere, life took a hard turn and I had no choice but to follow. There are moments and seasons in life when you’re given one of two or more choices. This wasn’t available to me today. I walked a 6-hour path of misery, by sitting in an uncomfortable room and an uncomfortable chair, and thankfully came out on the other side.
Life is nothing if not unpredictable. Especially when you have everything scheduled and coordinated. It’s interesting how life’s “surprises” continue to shock. Perhaps one day they won’t surprise us anymore. Maybe we’ll learn the lesson of living in the moment, no expectations and accept everything that comes with an open hand and spirit.
Perfect Timing –
Today was a great day for yard work. Our lawn has feasted on the rain and nutrients it’s received this week and has started to grow wild. It was windy and cool today and so I put on my blue jean overalls and hopped on the lawn mower. I had exactly one tank full of gas and it was enough for me to mow the front and the back.
About a third of the way through with the front yard I ran over some landscaping cloth. It was thick enough to get stuck around the blades of the mower. I stopped under our big Oak tree. I was busy messing with the cloth and when I was able to get all of it removed I was about to get back on my John Deere when I saw a long, thick branch just a few feet from where I was parked. Because I was under the mower near the engine I didn’t hear it crash to the ground but was certainly glad I stopped where I did and not a few feet further.
When I finished mowing I grabbed the weed eater and began working my way around the yard. The wind picked up and a few sprinkles fell and I wondered if I would finish before the rain started. I got through and was headed into the workshop as the rain came.
I had experienced two instances of perfect timing in the short span of an afternoon. Time is an interesting concept to try to wrap our minds around. We wonder why things happen when they do. We complain when we’re victims of bad timing and consider ourselves blessed with privilege and perfect timing when things work out for us.
The truth is we can’t control time and must accept with open hand the good and the bad. It is hard trusting the path of life to take us where we need to go and when we need to get there. Acceptance, grace, and thankfulness should be how we receive all that life brings our way.
The sight and sounds of it are everywhere. Even though it has been cold today with temps staying in the low 20’s, the sun has shone most of the day and the melting of the snow we received Thursday and Friday has begun. Each time I take the dog outside, more and more of it has retreated from the rooftops, tree limbs, sidewalks, and grass. The frigid air cannot stop the heat from the light of the sun, cannot stop the snow from going.
There’s wisdom in the mud and leftover, soon to be gone, snow. Nothing lasts. Whether beauty or ugliness it all will pass and soon there’ll be no trace of it. It’s the same with the storms and seasons which we encounter on the path of life. Whether attractive like the snow or repulsive as the mud, all must be accepted and allowed to endure for their time.
Life is nothing if not always transitioning. Each moment, season, lifetime, is fleeting. Welcome with open hand and do not grasp as it goes away.
Open Hand –
I was speaking with someone this week about what it means to live a life of simplicity and poverty. Both of these are part of the vows I took when I became a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).
I told him it was best summed up as the philosophy, theology, of “the open hand.” Life is transient. It moves, is never still. All the things and people we love are constantly changing, growing, getting older, decaying. Sooner or later we say; “Goodbye” to all things, even ourselves.
To live with an open hand it to allow and accept when any and all things come into our life. We do not grasp, possess, control but let them stay for as long or as little as they’d like to or can. Then, all things leave. They go away, decay, are fickled, stay for a season, die. As the remnants of what was, blows from our hands, we accept the truth that nothing is forever. We are blessed not because we have but because we experienced and this is enough. The experience changed us, taught us to love openly and to be reminded us there is nothing which is ever truly; “ours.”
To live with an open hand instead of gathering, collecting, hoarding, imprisoning we become detached to all that is only for a moment, and so make ourselves available to be held by the one who is eternal.