These past weeks of preparation for Christmas have been a time of reflection...in spite of myself. Even amid all the rushing around, my good old faithful internal reflection machine still managed to function on auto-pilot ("where did the years go? how did I get like this?"), and while trying to keep up with activities that I've taken on for various "causes," I found myself a bit discouraged and down in the dumps just before Christmas.
It seems that I involve myself now with nothing but problems ... on an international scale (war, peace, torture, Guantánamo prisoners, Amnesty International), professional scale (looking for new and innovative ways to help the students grasp what I'm trying to teach them), faith community scale (our Friends meeting is in a very precarious financial state), or domestic scale (son #2 and his eagerness to go touring with a rock band).
Nothing but problems to work on...somewhere along the way I had lost the joy that Quaker spirituality had brought me, as well as my ability to enjoy music, food, and the other good things that God has had the goodness to sprinkle along my path.
Then I remembered some things I had read and learned this year, especially these words of wisdom from Deepak Chopra:
We aren't here to make the world evolve. We are here to evolve as individuals and then to spread that influence.and
Let us not demand of ourselves that we alone must be the agent of change. In a fire brigade everyone passes along a bucket, but only the last person puts out the fire. None of us know where we stand in line. We may be here simply to pass a bucket; we may be called on to play a major role. In either case, all we can do is think, act, and say. Let us direct our thoughts, words, and actions to peace. That is all we can do. Let the results be what they will be.and
Let us realize that engagement and detachment aren't opposite--the more engaged we become, the more detached we will have to be. Otherwise, we will lose ourselves in conflict, obsessiveness, anxiety over the future, and feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Keep in mind that we are pioneers into the unknown, and uncertainty is our ally. When our minds want closure, certainty, and finality, let us remind ourselves that these are fictions. Our joyous moments will come from riding the wave, not asking to get off at the next station.Read his entire essay, "Where is Peace in a Time of War?."
...and I heard a voice tell me...one thing at a time...one problem at a time...one step at a time...but above all, be at peace and in love with this life.
So that's my New Year's realization...
No sooner had I finished writing the above entry, than I went to check my email and read this sad message from our peace group's coordinator: