Affirmation: I enjoy every moment of this blessed life.
The conversation revolved around the needs of the poor and destitute and what we are capable and willing to do to alleviate their sufferings. The news stories revolving around the excitement of the 2016 Summer Olympics were in a sharp contrast to those of the sport stories. They were grim and horrific. The photo on the front of the August 14th Wall Street Journal was that of a little toddler, Omran Daqneesh, 5, who was rescued after an airstrike in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Within hours, this photo of his dust and blood-covered face captured the world’s attention. You can google it if you like. It was taken by Mahmoud Raslan. It has been compared to the photo of the little girl running from the napalm blast during the Vietnam War. It’s a single image that brings into our homes and hearts the complete devastation caused by hate and evil.
The question, however, always seems to remains the same, “What can I do?” What can I do? I know I’ve written about this before and as you might know I do volunteer and raise money and send money to different charities especially those that help children. I do pray daily for “those most in need of God’s mercy.” It’s a part of my morning ritual and part of my Rosary but is that enough? Yes, I would like a magic wand to wave. I’d like “all the money in the world.” I’d like to be a mini Mother Teresa but I do not have those gifts and some days I simply feel helpless in the face of such suffering and agony.
As you probably know. I live in North Carolina. I think it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the states, if not the world. We have the ocean at one end and the mountains at the other. We have Carolina blue skies and when you fly into this area all you see is green green green. If that isn’t enough we have flowering bushes and trees that dot the landscape wherever you go. Most days I am in awe of living here. How did this happen? Why am I living in this paradise? Did I “do” something right? Did I “do” something to deserve this? Am I a favorite child of God and so She/He placed me here in the midst of Shangri-La? Why do I get to live this life of abundance and comfort when so many are making do with so little or perhaps nothing at all?
I know some would tell me that I chose this experience before I was even conceived, smart me. Some others might say that this is karma, what I did in a previous life earned me this life I now have. Good job, Jean! I, however, do not have an answer that makes any sense to me. Maybe you do? I know my Christian faith tells me I am called to give much because I have been given much. I’m not even sure I understand that. How much is enough? I have heard many religious people talk about how everything we have is a gift from God. I don’t really get that either. I’m grateful for everything I have, even those things I didn’t think I wanted but received anyway but really did God bestow those on me? Does God really look down and say, “There’s little Jean Anne and I think she should enjoy a piece of chocolate, a good husband, wonderful children, a beautiful sunset or a stunning vista?” I don’t think so! I do believe, however, that we get to choose how to view whatever it is that comes into our lives and we can choose to be grateful to a God that can create the beauty and pleasures and even the challenges of this life. That’s what free will is all about; we get to choose how we perceive whatever is or has occurred in our lives, especially those of us who live a life of comfort and privilege.
I am re-reading Christiane Northrup’s, Goddesses Never Age, with my study group, The Seekers. The chapter on optimal health revolves around the concept of finding pleasure. I know it sounds hedonistic but the lesson Dr. Northrup is teaching is about fully embracing the joys and gifts of our lives. It’s not just about the concept of pleasure but of how to affect a healthy response to what we enjoy. She’s not telling us to simply notice those aspects of our lives that bring us joy. We are being encouraged to not only be grateful, which I know for many is a challenge in itself; we are being called to savor those experiences, to taste them, to feel them, to let them raise us up beyond our wildest dreams and fill every cell in our bodies with tingling sensations. She is suggesting that when we have that piece of chocolate or see that sunset or hold the hand of a loved one, we take the time to fully embrace the feelings of the experience. What happens when we allow ourselves to completely experience such pleasure? There is a physical reaction where our bodies emit Nitric Oxide and NO has healing properties that cause all sorts of wonderful effects including a delicious sense of well-being.
I believe God does care about us. I believe God loves us beyond our wildest dreams and that He/She will and does intervene in our lives in a very personal way but we have to ask and we have to be open to those gifts and then, the most important part is that we must fully appreciate our gifts, even those we didn’t think we wanted. The conversation I was having about the poor and destitute and our responsibility took a completely different turn than I had expected. The wise woman across from me said with emphasis, “Well then, Jean, you must fully enjoy every moment of this blessed life.” That felt like quite a challenge. I had another person tell me they thought when we arrived at the pearly gates St. Peter’s question would be just that, “Did you fully enjoy every moment of your blessed life?” I’m working on having that answer be, “Yes.” Perhaps with an attitude of gratitude my healthy healing body and spirit will in itself spread out and make a difference in someone’s life that is less fortunate than I. Perhaps part of my giving back and sharing my bounty doesn’t lie in only giving time, talent and treasure. Perhaps it also requires unconditional love and bringing hope and joy into every part of our lives and therefore, the world.