Starting Over –
I was speaking with a friend this week who struggles with anger. We were trying to figure out how to take a breath before responding to a situation or a person who triggers his angry responses. We talked about tricks and tips to get him to breathe in fully and exhale before whatever words were forming on his tongue. I told him; “At that moment think, see with your mind what the consequences of your words are going to be.” It’s the discipline of ‘the space in between.’ The greater the space in between the stimuli and the response the better. Take time to think, to breathe, there is healing, understanding, awareness, and acceptance in that moment. Use it.”
With each breath is a new beginning, a starting over, an opportunity to live and give life.
Today I had the privilege and duty to be a part of the memorial service for my father. It’s been surreal the last few days. So many errands to run, items to check off on a list, places to go, people to see. There’s been a sense of urgency, a nervous energy, a controlled chaos, riding a wave of sorrow and speed. Because of the hectic pace of the last several days, I stood on the stage behind the pulpit at the service this afternoon with no notes, and no structure to the stories and experiences I wanted to share.
Words, they’ve flooded my mind and soul since Dad passed. Words from family and friends who care and are sorry for our loss. Words that go into an obituary, on a card for flowers, in a service program and used in phone calls, emails, and texts. So many words used to describe the love a family has for one who is, was, the central fixed, point.
Now, standing behind the pulpit at the memorial service today, I had no notes, no words written, no solid ideas, memories swarming in my head but none coming in for a landing. How do you choose the right words to convey the meaning of a life which impacted many people? In the pantheon of phrases, how do you pick out those which will express the purpose of a life lived well?
A deep breath, a small prayer, and … share my heart, open my lips, loosen my tongue and let the words come. No, they will not be adequate. No, they will not be perfect. Yes, there will be second-guessing and memories that are forgotten to be shared.
Words. They are not, and cannot contain the heart’s cry of longing and loneliness or succinctly express the fondness, the love, the good of being apart from a person you love. This is okay. Living, being, existing, is more than words, deeper than condolences, greater than expressions of sympathy and sadness.
Living should be beyond our ability to communicate it easily if it is done well.
Bad Mood –
I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I didn’t realize it at the time. I woke up, fixed my coffee and had breakfast, got ready for church, went to a worship service and when it was over ambled to the truck and waited on Beth who had stopped to talk with someone. When she came outside she said; “You’re not in a good mood.” “What makes you say that?” I replied. She then listed things I had done, or not done, since getting up. I’d let out several exasperated breaths at different things which aggravated me, sat with my arms crossed during the worship service, complained sharply about a remark someone had made.
I was only looking for one or two things not a list of almost everything I’d done since pulling off the covers and putting my feet on the floor several hours ago! However, I couldn’t disagree with any of the items she listed nor could I argue with her conclusion that I wasn’t in a good mood. “You’re right,” I said to her. “I’m not sure why, it’s not you, but I haven’t been in a good mood today.”
We went home, had lunch, and took naps. I’m not sure my mood is any different now but at least I am aware enough to watch my thoughts, my tongue, and my actions. Not being in a good mood isn’t bad, or a sin, or negative. It should, however, make one more vigilant about reactions to what happens around you.
Bad moods happen to everyone. How well we adjust to, handle, them is the difference between being in a bad mood and having a bad day, week or life.
This morning I burnt my tongue. I drank too much coffee, too fast and am paying the price. I’ve scalded my tongue before and it hurts, every time. I don’t like the pain or the sensation when I rub it against the roof of my mouth. There are treatments I could try to dull the discomfort but, from experience, time is the greatest healer.
As I’ve dealt with my injury this morning I’ve reflected on both the damage a tongue can receive and deliver. What if hot beverages and spicy foods weren’t the only ways to harm our tongues? What would happen if our tongues were burnt when we used words that were too hot, highly charged, and injured another? What if our speech inflicted wounds upon us when they did to our brothers and sisters? How much more careful might we be with careless, rushed, rude, insulting, judgmental language if we too felt the pain our words can cause?