Many of us enjoy reminiscing at year’s end, and columnists are no different.
For that reason, and because I, too, am trying to wrangle some family time at Christmas, I’ve compiled some of my 2007 musings into a sort of spiritual advice list.
Forget the “woulda couldas,” and just live. After the Virginia Tech shootings: While “some might say metal detectors, gun control laws or even banning cargo pants would prevent another massacre, I have to say if the fear of death stops me from living, loving and longing for a peaceful future, then tragedies like Virginia Tech and the World Trade Center will kill my spirit long before I die.”
Don’t be “smart,” be faithful. On the show “Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader?”: “Most fifth-graders will likely tell you that it’s not how much Bible, Buddha, Brahma, Bhagavad-Gita or Book of Mormon you can recite, but it’s how you live your faith that matters — or, more precisely, how your faith lives in you.
“The most accurate description of that faith is found in Galatians 5:22-23. ‘But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.’ When you see these things acted out in people, you know faith works.”
Listen more often than you talk. On a placard-carrying protester: “Our lives don’t fit on placards. Our lives often are complicated, confusing and complex. And the only way you can help people unravel life’s complication is to sit with them in their hurts, listen to them and help them explore their options.”
Take a spiritual road trip. Relating a story about a man whose wife died during the vacation he’d postponed until his retirement days: Count the cost of taking a spiritual road trip. “They are almost always expensive, but the cost of staying home is almost always a deflated life. It is easy to live life with the ambiguity of the ‘someday,’ but there is a time you must give your final answer. There is a moment when you must decide to take your life out of the ‘always wanted’ category and place it into the ‘becoming’ category.”
Take time to help others. “Set aside our motives and the judgments we make about the motives of those we might help. We set them aside, and we help the hapless. We help the homeless, and we help the hopeless. We even help the ‘olier-than-thou’ preachers. Not because they deserve it or because they might be of use to us someday.
“We help them because they are us. And maybe there’s even more to it than that. Jesus knew it when he said, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ”
PRAY. A prayer I wrote this past year became one of the most requested pieces I’ve ever written, so in closing, I offer this reprise:
Sitting atop the rock with my soul exposed, I was hoping to find a still place, a place where I could hide and be exposed, see and be seen — a place high enough to make my prayer heard, but low enough to nurture humility.
My prayer began:
Lord, find what I’ve hidden
Heal what I’ve hurt
Open what I’ve closed
Teach what I wouldn’t learn
Fill the places I’ve emptied
And empty what consumes me.
Release what I’ve captured
Hold what escapes me
Invade what I defend
And defend what I’ve surrounded