This was a reflection from July 18, 2015 on my 5th wedding anniversary.
These words from Buddha echo in my heart today as I consider the three things that matter in the end.
As long as we can track human existence and thought, we see and read the same question: what is this life for?
The hope and the trust in a next life varies from cultures to religions.
The purpose beyond survival also varies from a quest for power to a need to belong to a need to be loved.
As communal people by nature, despite our differences and despite our wounds, we are in this together, destined for the same ending as life ends for us all. What happens next is up for public opinion, and no one knows for sure.
Buddha (which translates as the Awakened One), 2,500 years ago, 500 years before Jesus the Christ was even born, attempted to answer the same questions that we have today.
Buddha developed major teachings and truths that his community and generations of followers strive to live daily, if not hourly.
This above quote is just one of many, but speaks a little louder today for me.
I write this on my 5th wedding anniversary. On special occasions, it allows a sacred space to rest in the present, grateful for the past and hopeful for the future.
Five years went by fast in some ways as the blessings greatly outnumbered the losses. However, there was sadness in many deaths of family and friends. We overcame sickness, struggles and challenges. We celebrated many of life’s daily moments and we supported one another’s journey.
I write today, with these words of this spiritual sage in my heart, grateful to create a new memory for a new day.
In the end, how much we loved matters.
We often consider love in the marital bonds first, but we know too well that love is critical in all relationships.
It was the encounter of St. Vincent de Paul with a dying servant that proved to be a transformational love in 17thcentury France. This spark of love transformed a nation and a world.
It is the daily work of men and women choosing to live simply so others, often strangers, can live. This love leads to physical nourishment by the means of soup, sandwiches and drinks in every city in every nation. It also leads to spiritual and emotional nourishment with a warm touch and respect of dignity.
The love or lack of love of a parental figure can set the path for generations.
The love or lack of love of those in power can enhance or oppress those who come next.
Yes, love indeed matters, not just in the union of two, but in the daily interactions from the street corner with a stranger to the embrace of a soul mate.
In the end, how gently you lived matters.
Gentleness is a rare quality.
Take a moment and consider the last time you experience a “gentle” person.
Is it as often as you experienced a humorous person, or an arrogant person, or an angry person?
It is rare indeed.
Three weeks ago, I went on a three-day vacation to a guest house north of the city with my wife and our friend.
After searching for a lunch location, Yelp and Google Maps brought us to this small restaurant connected to the 19th hole on a golf course.
I cannot even tell you what I ate, but I can tell you the grace of the waitress.
She was poised, calm in nature and generous with her time.
She made an impression on me as she was gentle with a group of city slickers who were lost in the country.
I regret not asking her name, but I can feel her grace still, as it radiated from her that Sunday afternoon.
I mention her because she, like all, has her baggage and her challenges. She likely closed up the restaurant later that day, as she did many days before and will many days in the future.
She may very well have kids or parents of a friend to care for, as well as caring for herself.
Waitresses are expected to be courteous, although that is not always the case. Gentle, not so much.
Despite her untold story, she showed grace which I sense she would show when the apron was off and when her next commitment was before her.
I consider the impression I make on others, and being kind and funny are often the two that I aim to accomplish.
To be gentle is different. To be gentle means something deeper, something that stays with you beyond a laugh or a smile.
There is a spiritual energy to gentleness because I believe it is God radiating through us as we finally allow God’s care to breakthrough.
It is that lovely image of the father in the parable in Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament of the Prodigal son. The gentle father runs to his disheartened son, who was lost but is now found.
This very angry, frustrated and unkind world at times, needs a little more gentleness. It begins with us.
In the end, let go of things not meant for you.
This direction comes from the fact that we do not let go of things that are not meant for us.
I say “do not,” not “cannot” because there is a difference.
“Do not,” implies that we have power in our choices.
“Cannot” implies that the power is beyond us.
We have the power.
This statement also comes from the fact that we do not grab or seek or hold on to things meant for us.
Consider a toxic relationship, a draining job, or a life condition that is not suitable. All may have been life giving at one point.
They may no longer be meant for you anymore.
So why do we hold on? Why do we settle for less?
I am honestly not sure.
My hunch is that we are afraid of the unknown, and the survival drive keeps us close to what we know and avoids what is unknown, which could be worse.
I also suspect that our ego gets in the way, afraid to fail, or to let someone down, resulting in a change of opinion from someone on us.
Brene Brown once said, “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.”
Letting go of what is not meant for you is uncomfortable and involves a great deal of courage.
Don’t we deserve to have what is meant for us?
In the end, when it is too late, imagine knowing we settled for a life that was good but could have experienced our true self and lifted others as a result.
In the end, as the cliche goes, let go and let God.
Then, and only then, we can close our human eyes that final time only to awaken to see what we did was just plain beautiful.