You’re invited to Bev’s wedding!
You’re invited to the Thanksgiving potluck!
You’re invited to enjoy the rest of your life!
The first four of the invitations are part of the natural progression of life. We hope they come to us. We usually say yes to them. What about the fifth? The invitation to enjoy the rest of your life? For many of us, especially women, that is the most challenging invitation. In most cultures, whether it is stated out loud or not, women are typically in a subservient role. Wife and mother morph into housekeeper and nanny.
The thought of enjoying your life seems beyond your reach. The if onlys slip from the back to the front of your mind.
If only I had a different job.
If only I lived in a different town or house.
If only I didn’t have this illness.
If only I had the perfect spouse or perfect children.
If only I could wave a magic wand and have a million dollars.
When we spend our time caught up in the if only’s we fail to appreciate the good and the beauty that surround us.
Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite lay brother in the 16th century, taught many through the years to value the practice of the presence of God. A book of his sayings compiled after his death became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike. Basically this is the practice of connecting with God multiple times during the day. This can be through prayer or through “conversations” with God about both the good and the bad opportunities that arise during the day. he idea is to take a moment, whatever you are doing, to appreciate the richness around you. One of Brother Lawrence’s examples comes to mind every time I think of him. It starts with him washing the breakfast dishes in the kitchen. He shares his awareness of the warmth of the water, the aroma of the soap, the texture of the dishes, the flavors of the food. And expresses his gratitude to God.
I realize that many people grew up with the image of God as a punishing tyrant rather than as a loving, supportive entity. Most of these people, however, are able to recognize a supportive energy outside themselves that they call by a different name such as Higher Power, Holy Spirit, the Universe, Source, and others.
Thích Nhãt Hąnh, is a present day Zen Master Buddhist monk who has written and taught about mindfulness and peace for years. His key teaching is that we can learn to live happily in the present moment by being aware, mindful, of what we are doing and what is happening round us. When I think of Hąnh, I think of taking a walk near the woods, being aware of the sounds and smells around me and the texture of the path beneath my feet.
Both men, Brother Lawrence and Thích Nhãt Hąnh, have shared with us tools we can use to truly enjoy our lives. Take deep breath, look around you, and give thanks.
When you have more time, take more time. If everything around you is hectic, then a couple of seconds will do.
Therefore, I issue to you this invitation to:
Enjoy All of Your Present and Future Days and Nights!!!