Important, a priority, significant other.
Wholly subjective, what you choose to spend time on?
My friend Heather used to say, “If it’s important to you, you will find time for it.” The next breath was, “If it’s not important to you, you will find excuses.” These were not her original thoughts, but rather her mantra. And she always made time for people — friendships, family, business associates. Relationships, were her priority.
Because she died young, age 39, I am preoccupied with time. Do I have enough time to reach my goals, to live a life of significance? Heather’s death was nearly three years ago, but her voice, her advice, her wisdom echos in my mind. I hear her nudging me toward significance, the quality of being significant or having a meaning.
Each day we wake up, we are given a blank page, a fresh start. What is significant? How can we make time for the important stuff when fitting in the daily mundane tasks. Too many times, my to do list only contains laundry, errands, and appointments.
The question Heather wrestled with as she endured a terminal illness, was what matters anyway? Does any of it really matter? Her fitness, her career, her material accumulations?
I advised her, that yes, yes these things matter, because the pursuit helped others. She was a realtor helping people find and sell homes, to transition from one life stage to the next. Her fitness inspired those around her to take care of their bodies, and the camaraderie of work-out buddies created fellowship and lasting memories. Her material accumulations provided stability for her children.
What if I started my daily list answering the question, what significant thing can I accomplish today. In order to live with that kind of purpose, one must identify what is of significance, give up the excuses, and make time for it.
Heather shared her last months’ of life on her blog, LovingLivingLife2Day. One post had the song, Seasons of Love. “Five-hundred, twenty-five-thousand, six-hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure, a year?”
Love. The answer is always love.
This was Jesus’ answer too. In John 13:34, Jesus told his remaining disciples, as little children, that he will be with them for only a short time, then will leave them. In the verse, Jesus told the disciples: “Love one another; as I have loved you.”
My writing often lacks transition; bounces from idea to idea, I neglect to connect them. The cue to readers to move from one thought to the next is often missing. Passages from one scene to another require a smooth transition. When this is awkward, writing comes across as choppy, jumpy, or abrupt. I have been accused of all these assessments.
I’m taking a jump here, transitions in writing are hard because transitions in life are hard. Remember adolescence? Complete and utter chaos transitioning to adulthood. Transition doesn’t stop here, but repeats throughout life.
Times of transition are often a mess filled with uncertainty. I, for one, would like to skip over the disorder of change. I fight it. I cling to a known way of life. As it transforms to something new, I would like to get there already. I’d like to forego the muddled period.
The noun transition comes from Latin transitionem, “a going across or over.” We are leaving behind the known. I hurriedly want to get over the past and embrace the future. I want to know how it ends. Transition correlates with unrest.
At my day job, we are transitioning to new leadership, new colleagues, new processes. I do not fear the future. I want to welcome what unfolds. Embracing the transition itself creates anxiety for me. I choke in the uncertainty of this time. Transitions in writing are brief. In reality, they stretch and zigzag. When a group, such as my work team, is forced to transition together, there is friction.
As I reflect on transition, the change from one state to another, I am reminded of scripture. From Isaiah 43:18-19, the Lord says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
When I trust God in the outcome, I can trust Him in the process. I can find peace in my faith that the result, though unknown, will be good and just.
Relief, a sigh of. The noun is the alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression …” Sometimes we don’t realize how tense, unpleasant, stressful a situation is until it is released from us. Then, we feel the relief. Relief is a thing we can hope for, and, I believe, count on.
Take Psalm 23, one of the most known and quoted scriptures. You make know from its beginning, “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want …” You may have heard it at times of grief or times of trouble.
In it, is the promise of relief. The promise. The certainty. Psalm 23 contains the following affirmations of times of rest and reprieve.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures.”
“He leads me beside quiet waters.”
“He restores my soul.”
In this scripture, we are told there is relief. God brings us to places of rest and revival. Like sheep who fight this resting, we are prone to overlook the relief that is all around us. Even temporarily we can feel relief even if not a complete absence of pain, at least a respite.
Relief originates in the late 14th Century — “alleviation of distress, hunger, sickness — from the Anglo-French relif, from the Old French relief “assistance,” literally “a raising, that which is lifted,” from stressed stem of relever.
In reviewing Psalm 23, we can learn to bask in the green pastures, relax by the still waters, restore ourselves to true form. Not so literally, we can find windows of opportunity to be led to a place that offers relief to us — our bed covered with comforters, our kitchen table set with a meal, our yard ripe with late season flowers.
In these places, we can give credit to the Creator. We can think of the following verse also contained in Psalm 23:
“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
This morning there is a gentle rain. Pattering of droplets on pavement, on window panes, on softening ground.
A gentle rain is as calming as a scented candle.
Scientifically, the word rain is water that is condensed from the aqueous vapor in the atmosphere and falls to the earth in drops mores than half a millimeter in diameter.
It falls, escapes from clouds, and reaches the surface to puddle and pool or seep and nurture.
Rain is different than drizzle. Rain is different than downpour. Described as a soft rain it cleanses the air, clears the humidity.
I find it wonderful to write inside wrapped in a sweater to the sound of the droplets. I step outside in the rain and smell the earth dampening.
Rain calls us to relax to reflect to watch and feel. It is a gift from God, easily explained away by science. Yet, I believe it speaks to the omnipresence of our higher being. It is the changes of weather that remind us of constant motion and variance.
Rain is a song from heaven.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
The adjective, mighty, literally means having, characterized by, or showing superior power or strength. For example: mighty ruler or a mighty oak.
It is easy to dismiss oneself as small or feeble rather than mighty especially when circumstances such as physical size or disability are less than great. Also, weak life stations can reduce us to believe we are less than.
However, mighty is a state of mind. Consider Mighty Mouse. The name together like that is an oxymoron. How can a mouse be mighty? But those of us exposed to the anthropomorphic superhero mouse were convinced of his power.
The American cartoon character first appeared in 1942 and subsequently in eighty theatrical films between 1942 and 1961. These films were twice revived in 1979 and when I was first introduced to him in 1987. This was one of my favorite cartoons. You can have your Bugs Bunny racing away from trouble, I’ll take Mighty Mouse heading full speed in the face of adversity.
Mighty in character, in mindset is within our control despite outward appearances and conditions. Too often, we forget our strength, our might — our power or ability to do or accomplish. We ignore our capacity.
Mighty originates before 900 from the Old English “mihtig” describing being possessed of or endowed with might; having much ability, strength, or power.
In the storms of life, it is best to be a mighty oak and to have the courage to believe this metaphor as truth. This is true for those personal struggles. Also, we must call upon our might to engage in the fight against injustice. We must be a force for good, like Mighty Mouse – the pint-sized Superman.
Is ambition something you have or something you do? Well both, depending if it a fixed characteristic or an action you take.
As a noun, ambition is an earnest desire for some time of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and willingness to strive for its attainment. Ambition is also the object state, or result desired or sought after.
One can own ambition as a desire for work or activity; energy. For example one can awake feeling tired or lacing in ambition. Contrarily, one could wake full of ambition ready to take on the work.
As a verb, ambition is the action of seeking after or to aspire to some end. Without action, ambition remains a noun, something we have but do not do. In her book “Simple Abundance, Sara Ban Breathnack, writes “Action — ambition in motion — is what produces achievement.”
It is easy to hold ambition, but without action ambition remains just a longing, a hope, a desire. As a verb, ambition connects intention with action!
Again, as a noun it is a aspiration, yearning or longing to some goal or aim. But with activity, ambition becomes something you strive toward. One can have the ambition to write a book, but until one sits with pen or keyboard, the novel idea is just a notion, never to become a realized dream.
She had the ambition to climb the stairs. Her ambition led her up the stairs. And as an adverb, she ambitiously climbed the stairs.
My hairdresser and I were chatting, becoming emotional, and we wondered aloud what could we really do. How could we contribute?
I can actively pray. My prayer is this: “Dear God, almighty, help me find voice and action to contribute. Fill me with your love to guide my children through these mobs of wall supporters. Empower me to have both voice and action toward a solution embraced with tolerance, love, and acceptance. I pray in your name, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Gentle readers, please light my path to contribution with suggestions in the comments as to how I can help.
Contribute, from Latin contributus, past participle of contribuere “to bring together, add, unite, collect.”
Audacious, adjective, extremely bold or daring, recklessly brave; fearless: an audacious explorer. Also meaning, extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive.
I used to own a pair of shoes. I called them my intrepid reporting shoes. They were navy blue, knock off, canvas sneakers. I wore them with everything. On the beat doing small town journalism. On the town, checking out the trendy wine bar in the early 2000s. Walking the dog. At the coffee shop. Meeting my would be husband.
Sin, from Hebrew, to miss the mark. As a verb, sin is an action. It results from succumbing to temptation or enticement. Sometimes, though, it occurs with lack of intention.
Sin is to commit a transgression of divine law, to offend against a principle or standard. As a noun, it is thought to be willful or deliberate violation of moral principle.
How does one recover from sin? On her knees? In a confessional booth? With vows to not repeat?
I first learned of sin at a conscious level in the fifth grade while preparing for receiving the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation. I spent month’s preparing by drumming up memories of all sin and wrong doing I had committed. I was reminding of missing church, telling little white lies, coveting my neighbor — I wanted Carrie’s frosted jeans, not honoring my parents, and using the Lord’s name in vain — how many times had I said “Oh my God?” Of course, I hadn’t stolen or murdered or broken any marriage vows.
So, my limited understanding was that I was to write down my sins. Later years, I would sit in a confessional booth, but this first sacrament was different, special. We folded up our letters, placed them in a fire at the front of church in front of Mary, the Father, God, our teachers, our families, and everyone. Then, I was forgiven. I was given a penance, which I forgot — Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s I imagine. I vowed to never sin again silently, frightened.
At a Presbyterian sermon, I relearned the word sin with a Hebrew meaning of missing the mark. This sounds of an act worth forgiving. An event one can recover from rather than be stained by.
Sin, from Old English synn is a “moral wrongdoing, injury, mischief, enmity, feud, guilt, crime, offense against God, or misdeed.” This sounds more damaging. Almost, unforgivable static way of life, sinful.
I choose to believe sinning is a temporary stray from a life of hitting the mark. One needs to find acknowledgment of the falling short and accept responsibility for the damage the sinning has caused. From there, one can tell oneself they just missed the mark and it’s okay to draw back and aim again at a just and right path.
Sin doesn’t magically get erased from a magician in the sky, like my 10-year-old self believed. Sin happens, deliberately and not. I chose to correct the course, adjust the coordinates, and carry on.
*Note: I do not believe my elementary understanding of the Catholic sacrament is complete and I do not intend this post to poke fun or insult the faith traditions of the Catholic Church. I acknowledge the ritual has a place and in fact it was a sacrament I received many times before converting to a protestant faith at age 29.