Have you ever read something that just won’t let you go? It happens to me frequently. Passages in a book which resonate or stay with me are written in a book journal that I keep. Not every book that I read has passages that I wish to commit to memory – or to my book journal – but those that do are written in a book that I return to from time to time, to remember and reflect. It’s a great way to carry in your heart the essence of a book long after you’ve read it and put it on a shelf or passed it along to someone else. Writing these passages in a journal is a meditation itself.
I have several books, that I’ve collected over the years, which offer daily readings. I keep them and move from one to the other throughout the course of a year. I feel I receive wonderful reminders, ideas for contemplation, appreciation for things I had forgotten, etc. And by moving from one book to another, I have an opportunity to hear from different voices – authors who have devoted significant time in their lives to creating the passages, sharing the wisdom and awareness in these books.
The passage below is from a book that I discovered a few months ago. The December 21 entry is one that I feel drawn to and have read twice a day nearly every day since. I feel that it captures so much of what I am feeling now, and have been for quite a long period of time. I had not found words to describe the way I felt and what I knew – the challenge of finding a middle place to be with all of the sorrow, suffering and devastation that so many are experiencing.
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
– Percy Bysse Shelley
I am an incorrigible optimist. I’m aware of the threats that surround us, but I haven’t lost my faith. I haven’t lost my hope. And I haven’t lost my confidence that people working together harmoniously can bring about a change for the better in the world that our children will grown up in.
It’s not for governments to improve our lives. It is for each individual to ask himself or herself, “Should I continue to make things which destroy life, or can I lend my expertise and my experience to benefit life, to help life?”
We get discouraged because we don’t see life as it is. We feel we can’t make a difference because we don’t see things as they really are. When we see life as it is, when we see people as they are, all sorrow will fall away, all suffering will come to an end. This is the great message of all religions. When we see life as it is, all sorrow falls away.From – Words to Live By: Daily Inspiration for Spiritual Living, by Eknath Easwaran: December 21, p. 380.
I find so much here.
I care deeply about so much and I find the times we have been in for the last many years, and in particular the one we are in now, to be painfully difficult when I consider all who have been or are hurting. I am often drawn to the news to see if things have happened to support those who need it most. And I know that I must step away from it. I cannot unsee things I’ve seen and I cannot forget much of what I’ve read, as it relates to the pandemic, the multitudes of losses of life, income, homes, access to necessities in a country that supposedly is so wealthy.
As I focus on the second paragraph of the above writing, I feel as if there are many answers there for each and everyone of us. Will all, who have the power and resources to help large numbers of people, find this question and take it to heart? Not likely. However, all of us who read this, might consider asking it of ourselves and then asking the question of four or five people that we know, and then asking them to do the same. I wonder what could happen if we all asked ourselves:
“Should I continue to make things which destroy life, or can I lend my expertise and my experience to benefit life, to help life?”
I already know there are many who will shrug this off as being useless as they are not involved in anything that destroys life. I would argue that each and everyone of us participates in an aspect of this when we do not care for ourselves, or we utter a judgmental word or phrase to ourselves or antlers about yet another human. There are many things we do that contribute to destroying life rather than benefiting or helping life.
Yes…it’s one of those questions. One that has a different answer each and every time we ask it of ourselves.
Let’s keep asking it anyway. The changes we make as a result of asking are so very important. And if we are serious about “…bringing about change for the better in the world that our children will grow up in,” how can we not attempt to ask ourselves this question, again and again and again?
We must live the question.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.