A couple of happenings in the past fortnight have brought me some sobering thoughts; sobering but worthwhile.
First, two weeks ago a good friend of mine hung herself. It was an absolute shock to hear the news and the following week spent in the company of her husband, children and among a group of close friends who also knew her well was quite traumatic and gave deep pause for thought. Independently of each other, after the shock, sadness and even anger had subsided we all found we had experienced similar visceral responses. Her action had made us all resolve to be happy, to embrace happy lives, to be life positive and to work with all our might to make the lives of those around us better.
Second, this morning, a large rock fell from a height onto my head. It was a stunning moment, in every way. Shock, pain, stupefaction, and then almost immediately a realisation that at any moment life can be changed irrevocably. Life can leave the body suddenly – there is no guarantee of another breath. I was lucky in that while it was a severe blow it hit a part of my head where the bone is strong; almost any other place would have been dangerous. Among my first responses were gratitude to God that I had been spared. To choose to be happy, to live from the heart, to love and be loved.
I thought to write this in case any of us, including myself in the future, needs reminding of the sacred fragility and holiness of this life.
- Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
- and remember what peace there may be in silence.
- As far as possible without surrender
- be on good terms with all persons.
- Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
- and listen to others,
- even the dull and the ignorant;
- they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.