For some reason I spent the last week stressing about taking a trip with my daughter. I wanted to go but there is something about leaving home that is stressful. Is it about leaving my safe place? I suspect that is part of it. Routine is familiar and comforting. Sometimes it is hard to get outside of our comfort zone. I have always been this way. The crazy part is that I enjoy myself when I go. Why do some of us have this problem?
So I got myself organized am now I’m visiting Boston with my daughter. I also get to be with my grandaughter who is at Brandeis University.my anxiety is suspended. So why all the drama?
It is interesting how change can send us off the rails. Most of us don’t like change and some of us are anxious when we have to accept it. The trouble is change is one of the true constants. Life never stays the same. Again I share the quote from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Since I don’t have it with me it may not be 100%: ” in the midst of all the changes and chances of this life I rest in Your eternal chamgelessness. ” please God let us live into this!
A friend of mine told me today that she is moving to be near her daughter. She feels that since she is aging it would be best to be near her daughter. She is moving to an independent living place. We talked about this major change in her life.
As we age there are many changes that come to us. We don’t think about this until we are at least in our sixties. We begin to realize that there may come a time when we can’t stay where we are. In the past when families lived near each other this was not such a major change. Now it seems that our children grow up and move away and we not longer have family where we are. I don’t look forward to having to leave my home but know it is a possibility. We all hope that we will age gracefully and maintain our independence but it doesn’t always happen.
Most of our lives are spent acquiring. We acquire spouses, children, homes, furniture and lots of other stuff. As we age we begin to divest ourselves. The next home may have to be much smaller and things will have to go. Children have moved away and have different lives although they are faithful.
The thing about divesting yourself is it’s the little things that get you. My friend has saved cards sent to her that are special and she is deciding let them go or not? It’s these kinds of choices that break us. The mementos of life….they carry so much meaning and to part with them is painful.
Sometimes when I think about this it’s as if most of life we have been on the way up and suddenly we are going downhill way too quickly. It is a difficult time. Maybe losing health, sight, hearing, and friends is too much. We are lucky if we are able to keep active until God takes us home.
Today I have been thinking about cause and effect. No matter what we do, or don’t do for that matter, there is always a result. It cannot be avoided. Just how much control do we have over the result of our actions? Sometimes I think we don’t have any and at other times it seems that I am definitely responsible for the outcome.
If we have anything to do with the outcome then we need to be careful. What I choose may have a result that affects someone else. Do I think about that when I make choices? Do I have a positive or negative attitude? It seems to me that having a positive attitude can change the outcome.
There is a difference between positive and negative attitudes. All of us have been with people who are always negative. For them, nothing is ever good. This can really wear on me and I don’t like being around them. Their negativity is just depressing. How we approach things is a decision that we can choose. I can get up in the morning and decide that it is going to be a good day and usually it works. Of course there are times when the day goes downhill anyway but not always.
We do have some control over our own mind. For those of us who have anxiety sometimes we feel truly out of control. It is hard to think yourself into a better place. Depending on the circumstances it may not be possible but that is what I am working on. Developing skills for handling bad feelings is a matter of training. It is just so hard to be disciplined.
Taking control of your own mind is a challenge but it is possible to do. It just takes consistent work.
My husband and I have been watching the BBC series “Father Brown.” I have been struck with the many scenes about confession and forgiveness. Father Brown makes completely clear that there is no forgiveness if there is not true regret and a desire to change. That is the view for the person who needs forgiveness. There is also the side of the injured. What is forgiveness from that point of view?
Forgiveness can be a difficult thing. If someone has hurt us badly we can have so many different emotions…anger, pain, hurt, disappointment, betrayal and others. Our emotions may swing from one feeling to another. Forgiveness may be the last thing we think about. Maybe we don’t even want to forgive for to do that we would have to let it all go.
The important thing to remember about forgiveness is that it is not just for the person who hurt us but for us as well. All the emotions that we are feeling heighten our body in a flight or fight mode. We secrete extra adrenaline causing our body to prepare for danger. When we think about the hurt we drag up those emotions again and again. You can feel the upheaval. If we continue to hang on to the hurt and drag it around with us it damages our well being. Somehow we have to find a way to let it go.
Letting it go may take time and conscious effort. Some of the hurts I have encountered in my life have hung on for quite a while. We have to consciously decide to turn it loose…. and do it again and again until those feelings subside. When we can remember the hurt without the emotions attached then we have truly let it go. There may always be a small residue like ashes left after burning paper but the real pain has subsided.
Forgiveness takes work.
Tonight I am discombobulated. A great southern term. Since we live in coastal Georgia we will begin putting things away and battening down the hatches. I know that we are blessed to not be in Florida or some of the islands that will be very hard hit and I grieve for those people. To have your life disrupted by mother nature can be a devastating blow. Any idea of safety and security is literally blown away. Suddenly you are completely vulnerable. Having been through this last year……as did all the places being hit again…..you start to feel caught in some dreadful nightmare. It would be easy to ask where is my God in all of this?
The thing is I start to wonder how much part we humans have played in all of this. Are we having so many storms because of the warming water due to global warming. It is possible the earth would be warming anyway but I suspect that we have helped it along.
So where is God? The answer is right where God has always been…at our side through any kind of adversity. There was no promise that life would be perfect. Just a promise to always be there. So..I will leave my home and hope that when I return things will not be too bad. My husband and I will still be together and the rest of our family safe. As Julian of Norwich says: “and all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”
What are we missing? What is the thing that makes us feel as if we are not complete in some way? What is it that makes some of us feel that only money can fix it. For others it may be fame and others some sort of addiction. We try to fix it with food, alcohol even suicide. We label some people as having an addiction and yet each of us is addicted to something. The question is something that helps us or something that hurts us.
Each of us lives out life striving to fill that void. The quote below from Blaise Pascal shows that humans have had this longing for centuries. Pascal equates it as God.
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)
Some people have said that there is a God sized hole in each of us that we try to fill with things but nothing works. Those of us who sense that hole may be reaching out to understand and find God….each in our own way. For me that search fulfills itself in Christianity. For others it may be Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or wherever you find that peace.
In my mind that peace is found in love and compassion toward others which seems to be at the root of most faiths. Accepting and caring for others no matter their beliefs, color, sexual orientation or anything else pulls us toward filling that hole. Seeking to find something more than ourselves by meditation, prayer and acts of love fill us in a way that nothing else can.
Seek to find that peace for yourselves and help lead others to it.
Life is never boring. Now nature has handed the people around Houston a major catastrophe. This may not impact us individually but we need to think about what something like this can do….feel compassion and help where we can.
Last year we were hit by a hurricane head on. It was just a category 2 hurricane when it hit us but the way it functioned caused more damage than usual for a hurricane of that size. For the fist part of Matthew we were pummeled by 12 inches of rain and minimal winds. After the eye was past the winds came. We have a lot of pine trees. Usually those trees are snapped off by winds but do not fall over. Unfortunately, the rain loosened the roots and our islands were devastated by fallen pines. These were at least 100 foot trees. Many houses were hit by more than one tree and some were completely destroyed., We were lucky to only have one tree on our home. Now I worry about it happening again this year.
There is a point to all this remembering. At almost one year later we have finally repaired the damages from Matthew. When I think about Houston and surrounding areas I know that the damage from winds was bad enough but the floods have been devastating. Some people will never recover. For others it may be years before they are settled and comfortable somewhere.
I do wonder about our weather and what is changing. We have not done our earth any favors. We are called to be stewards but good stewardship does not leave the land in worse shape. Some of climate change can be from the normal cycles of the earth but we have gone way overboard to injure “this fragile earth our island home.” (from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer) If we continue the way we are we will soon extinguish ourselves.
All of us are called to do whatever we can to help. We must pray for and help the hurricane victims in whatever way we are able. Each of us must also do what we can to help the earth. We may only be one person at a time but each thing helps. We may inspire others to help too.
Pray for all those who have experienced tragedy due to weather.