Life As It Is
“It might take a while, but eventually we learn that accepting life as it is—learning to shape ourselves to it, rather than forever trying to wrench it to our own designs—is itself a virtue. It opens our souls to consider what parts of the present challenges of life must be changed—and must be accepted.”
Joan Chittister (Danny Comes Home; Parabola, Summer, 2016)
Yesterday, I spent several hours with my two sons, hauling furniture out of my house to the downstairs porch so that the auction house can come this week and pick it up. Pieces of furniture that had belonged to my great aunts, my parents, my grandparents, and me. Furniture that I had held onto for my entire adult life. Furniture that I sometimes forgot about because it was so familiar. Suddenly, it had to go. I wanted to clear space. All sentimentality dropped away. It was time.
Life changes. Each year, each decade, brings changes that we expect and changes we don't expect. We, or at least I, spend far too much time wishing, and far too little time accepting and moving on. Wishing things were different, wishing we could afford this or that, thinking about what we would do if only...And all that time, life is changing and moving on. It moves like a river—sometimes so slowly you can't see it, and sometimes rushing and churning. We can either spend our precious time here resisting change, building dams to try to contain it, or we can go with the flow.
Lao-Tzu, ancient philosopher and author of the Tao Te Ching, wrote: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” I'll bet that most of us reading those words have an instantaneous resistance to their implications. For Westerners, it sounds like throwing in the towel, giving up, etc. But in truth, it is a way of conserving energy for what truly matters. When we learn to hold out our hands and welcome the unknown without resistance, we will be free to embrace whatever comes.
In the Spirit,