My friend Joel Metzger posted this story on facebook and like everything else in my life, and perhaps yours as well, it was perfecly timed. Read and discover if this is indeed so.
Once there was a young man who had just graduated from university and was walking behind an old man.As he was just starting out in life, he thought maybe the old man could give him a few words of wisdom. The old man was walking weighted down with a big load on his back.
The young man went up to him and asked, “Do you have any words of wisdom for me? I’m just starting out.”
The old man stopped, looked at the young man, put the load down, stood up straight, and smiled at him. Then he put the load on his back again, hunched over, and walked away. Not a word was exchanged. I think it was the wisest thing he could have ever told him:
The reason you walk like this is not from your load. That’s all borrowed.
If you want to stand up straight, then put the load down.
What you have been given, what is yours, is not a load. What is yours is truly a delight.
It is simple: The more we enjoy, the more joy we have.
And the more we accept that joy, the more we appreciate.
Other things in life decrease, but this is one thing that keeps increasing.
– Prem Rawat (Maharaji)
When I consider the so called ‘burdens’ with which I have been gifted, I have come to accept them as exercise equipment that have strengthened me and made me more flexible. They have come in deceptively wrapped packages, sent Special Delivery from the Universe, marked:
Childhood asthma which led to becoming a competitive swimmer and then lifeguard and swim team coach.
Death of my beloved grandmother at the age 4 which taught me that despite sadness, life goes on and we do what needs to be done, as my mother modeled for me, in the midst of what I imagine was deep grief.
In one year (1992), I had an ectopic pregnancy, my husband Michael was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and we lost our home in Florida to Hurricane Andrew, where we had moved to publish a second regional edition of Visions Magazine, which we had published from 1988-1998. From that I learned that we are always protected and cared for and that ‘stuff’ can be replaced.
Over the interceding 6 years, Michael’s condition worsened and on 11/11/98, he entered the hospital for the final time. During a 5 1/2 week sojourn in the ICU, I rode the daily roller coaster ride of wondering whether he would receive the life saving liver transplant that we had prayed for, or whether I would become a 40 year old widow. On 12/21/98, the answer was apparent that the latter was to be. During one ‘dark night of the soul’, as I was gazing out the window onto a literal dark Philadelphia late Fall into Winter night, I heard ‘the voice for God’ that had visited me several times throughout my life, tell me, in response to my insistent, little kid foot stomping “He’s mine and you can’t have him.”, “No, he’s mine and he’s on loan to you, like everyone else.” That was an abundantly clear reminder to love and bless and embrace everyone in my life, taking no one for granted. As a result of Michael’s death, I became an interfaith minister since he had been enrolled in The New Seminary when he died. I took his place in the class and completed the course work and was ordained in 1999.
In 2008, my dear father passed from this earthly plane after a 3 year bout with Parkinsons that had this former Golden Gloves boxer, life-long athlete with 6 pack abs into his 70’s, lose his physical capacities and reply, when I would ask him how he was feeling, “Disgusted, that I can’t do what I used to do.” He found solace in the love and attention of my mother; his sweetheart of more than 52 years, to whom he wrote daily love notes. He found himself delving even more deeply into his spiritual readings; his practice was to read portions of the Old Testament and other sources that touched on his Jewish faith. As he was lying in the hospice- provided bed at home, right before his transition, on 4/3/08, I read to him one of his favorite pieces from a book I had given him a few years earlier. At my mother’s request, it was buried with him. The next day, the power went out in the condo and my sister went to the circuit breaker to flip a switch and saw a sticker posted inside in my father’s distinct writing (we joked that he should have been a doctor and not a milkman and bus driver:) that said “I love you.”. It had been meant, I imagine, for my mother to find. From seeing my father through his end of life experience, I learned that love lingers even as ‘life’ wisps away and is sustained beyond physical presence.
For 2 1/2 years, I witnessed my mother’s grief over her darling’s death and again, in characteristic style, as she had with my grandmother’s passing all those years ago, kept on keepin’ on; “Hangin’ in there, babe, hangin’ in there.” would be her answer when I would inquire into her state of being. Maintaining an active social life, not wanting to move back up North from her Ft. Lauderdale home to be with us, determined to enjoy each day; she succumbed to CHF (perhaps in some ways, dying of a broken heart) and on 11/26/10, she joined my Dad. I have visions of them dancing with delight at being reunited. In the process of being with her over a 7 month period, I have learned to ride the tide, and have adopted her ‘Que sera, sera’ attitude. From this, I have learned the incredible power of unconditional love, to heal us; body, mind and spirit.
Blended together, each of these experiences have served to make me a fuller human/spiritual being, in awe of how extraordinary life is, grateful for each blessing, regardless of form.
For your listening pleasure…the Sly and The Family Stone funkified version of the Doris Day classic