Saturday, July 27, 2013

Birthday Serenity

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,

Grace... it's the gift that you don't have to earn. It's the thing you can never get on your own. Grace is the blessing that cannot be bought or sold, only freely given and received.
Serenity... the gift of peace with yourself. Calling a truce with your own flaws and faults. I acknowledge all that I am today, and embrace the person God created me to be... the person I choose to be.
So much of life is beyond my grasp and control. Circumstances. Situations. The choices other people make or don't make. In spite of all my best efforts, my health can still fail me. Neurons misfire. Chemicals flood or dry up. Rogue cells can grow into tumors, no matter how many green vegetables I eat.
I cannot change natural law... natural consequences. To embrace that, I must release my hold on this. Pick up one end of the stick, and you  must pick up the other. I can choose how much of myself I share with you, but I cannot change the way you react to what you see.

Courage to change the things
which should be changed,

Courage is the triumph of love over fear. It is the act of will that says, " I will try to do what I know is right, no matter the cost or consequence." Courage is not satisfied with half-measures and good intentions. It is action. It is force. Courage sees the potential for good in the world, and refuses to accept past failure as destiny.

and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

The fool shakes his fist at the clouds,
While the sage is building a shelter for the village...

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,

Ashamed of yesterday,
Afraid of tomorrow,
I will be left paralyzed...
blind to the magnificent possibilities of today.
I cannot redeem what has been lost, or control what is to come,
I can only accept the grace of Now,
The gift of God that is this moment
My moment
To fill with love or fear
With life, or living death.

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

And when the obstacles come, as they must
May I see them for what they are...
Life passing by
Water flowing along the sides of the ship of my life,
Events and circumstances.
Time and space,
The river of life whose channel I navigate
As each eddy and current presses me this way or that
As branches and garbage float in my path
Sand bars
Wind and ice
Each showing me more about the river and my own little part in it.
They are my teachers
Guiding me toward safe harbor

Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,

"Thy will be done," he prayed. Not because he accepted the injustice and cruelty of this world, but because he knew that only open eyes can see what is and what is not. How many times have I looked at the world through the filter of my own desire?, my own interpretations? How often have I seen what I wanted to see, choosing to ignore whatever did not fit into the framework of my own imagination? To see the world as Jesus did is to look through God's eyes, not our own. It is to accept each creature as a being with integrity and flaws. It is to respect... to look again and again... always searching the heart, not the surface... always seeking the truth of what is, never settling for the smoky reality of what I believe might be.
And finally, seeing through God's eyes means honoring the choices that other people make. God has the power to bend any creature to his will, but chooses to allow us the freedom to act according to our own conscience instead. God grants us that dignity... we are free to be who we are. If I am to embrace the world as God does, I can do no less.

Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,

And it is that surrender, that submitting to things as they are that is the hardest part, isn't it? To accept that all things are as they should be feels weak somehow. Complacent. The sick are sick because that is God's will? The poor? The suffering? Is there nothing to be done?
There is a lot to be done. But change requires two things: serenity and courage. It requires the serenity to accept the truth of things as they are, and the courage to seek and obey God's guidance as you work to make the wrong things right.
So I surrender to God's will, I accept the things I cannot change, but I never surrender to the fear and death that keep me from serving my Creator and the creation of which I am a steward.

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

And what is it to be happy? It is to live at peace with yourself, with creation, with your Creator. To be happy is to live in love with the world, and see it through the courageous eyes of one who is not afraid of the truth. To be happy in this word, or any world, is to embrace a spirit of gratitude for the lessons of the past, for the possibilities of the future, and for opportunity of the present.
I'm 53 years old today. And I am blessed. I have people who love me. I have a life that has come close to ending more times than I can count. I have lost most of my worldly wealth, but in that loss, I have become as rich as anyone. I continue to grow. I continue to learn. I continue to run. And I thank God for all that I have.
It's a hard lesson... but after half a century and then some... I believe that I'm learning to be happy.



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