separate, yet together

Let me remember that each life must follow its own course, and that what happens to other people has absolutely nothing to do with what happens to me. – Marjorie Holmes

 

God has Created each of His children as individuals. To each of us He has given different personalities, different physical characteristics and different thoughts. Even identical twins will always be different, if only in subtle ways. The world may seem them as the same, but they are different. It is simply unfathomable that the billions of people who have lived and died and will live and die are and will be separate individuals. Only God could accomplish something so, well, there is no adjective that adequately describes the enormity of this Truth.


And yet, as each of us lives a separate life, somehow we are and are not entwined. I agree with Marjorie Holmes when she says what happens to other people has nothing to do with me. But I also must disagree as well.


Every decision someone else makes is their own choice. Ultimately, I have no influence over it. I can try, persuade, bully, plead, and whine to make someone else do what I want them to do. But, the final decision is always theirs. And, someone else can ask me to do something, they can threaten me, beat me, scream at me, even threaten someone I love – but in the end the decision is mine to make.


The journey I am on is separate from another’s journey. The choices I make on my journey don’t affect another’s. Or do they? Another author I enjoy reading, Marianne Williamson, believes that what we do as individuals has profound implications on the world at large. I believe this as well. Every choice I make in my day ripples out into my pond, which then has a subtle influence on other ponds and ultimately and eventually to the great ocean of life.


So when is our journey separate and when is it entwined? I wonder if our lives are more interconnected than I previously thought? When I first started this journey of daily musings I believe wholeheartedly in the quote by Mrs. Holmes. But now, eight months on, I am thinking we are not as separated and as individual as I previously believed.


Yes, we are separate people with completely different personalities and lives both temporal and eternal. But are we connected to one another in ways we can’t even begin to imagine? I imagine we are connected to each other because we are all Children of God, regardless of color, gender, religion, or family. We are connected to each other through Spirit. But is there more? What other ways are we connected to each other?


For certain we aren’t like Star Trek, The Next Generations’ Borg species. We aren’t separate bodies with a single-focus mind. But in some spiritual ways aren’t we? When people, especially religious people, come together to worship, aren’t we all there to focus on God? We probably aren’t all that successful, but we try.


Hmmm, this is a conundrum for me, being separate yet together. This spiritual truth is something I will be mulling over for a while. Perhaps it will be another one of those unanswerable questions. But I do think I have more to learn from the subject before I shelve it until Eternity.

 

Benjamin Shiff, self-portrait

no regrets

It was times like these when I thought my father,
who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
-Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Bravery comes in many forms. When the woman who is depressed and feels like she can’t take another step but she gets out of bed anyway goes on with her life: bravery. When the child with cancer hopes for the future and faces down death everyday of his young life: bravery. When the young man stands up for a fellow human being against bullies: bravery. When the citizens of a country refuse to bow down to terrorism and go about their daily business regardless of how dangerous it is: bravery.


Bravery is not just for firefighters, the police or soldiers. It is also for the everyday person who walks boldly through their life and faces down their fears when all manner of derision surrounds them. A person who is brave in these more subtle ways is perhaps the bravest of them all. It takes courage and gall to stand up against what is easy or wrong and in turn, fight for what is harder or right. People with such integrity are often overlooked and ignored.


We need people who are blazingly brave. Hero’s help us aim higher for the ultimate good. They remind us of what we can be, not what we are. They remind me that although I cannot change the world at large through bravery, I can change my world. My small, little corner of the globe can be enlightened through my willingness to put on a brave smile each morning and face down my fears. Change will come through my choices of good over bad, of right over wrong, of love over hatred.


Eventually I will stand before my God and give an accounting for my deeds and thoughts while on this earth. Will my life’s review from God’s point of view be full of joy or steeped with regret? How many good things did I leave undone? How many feelings and souls did I step on as I moved through my self-centered life? How many spirits did I crush because of my unthinking, unkind words? How many lives did I leave untouched because of my unwillingness to give even a smile or kind word to a stranger? How many people did I turn away because I was too busy thinking only of myself?


I don’t know the answer to those questions now, but I am sure to find out during my first moments with God when I am Home again. I don’t want to go to my grave with regrets. I can only change where I am now. I cannot change what I did or did not do in the past. I cannot manipulate my future in order to become a person of integrity. I can only change this moment, this second, this NOW.

And that — that is enough.

 

Angel Statue by Wingsauce

wingsauce.deviantart.com

an outward expression of integrity

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. -Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling

The last couple of weeks I’ve looked at what is the measure of a man, or, in other words, what does it mean to have integrity and strength of character. To have integrity means making good choices and right decisions over the wrong ones. It means to be honest and faithful at all times. It means doing good things for other people and not expecting anything in return, including open praise. It means being humble in the face of pride and courageous in the face of fear.

 

In this crazy world of ours, actually in any previous society as well, having integrity is no easy task. It takes hard work and full-time diligence. Even the most sainted person makes mistakes and wrong decisions. There is no one on earth who has perfect integrity. We all struggle with it but that is a part of our journey. If we were all perfect then how would we grow into a more perfected spirit being? What would our challenges be then?

 

Integrity is an outward expression of who I truly am inside. Can I watch violent shows on television, slowly absorbing the acceptance of violence into my mind and then have integrity when someone angers me and I think of hurting them? What if I only think it and not act it out? No harm, no foul, right? I don’t think so. How you think is directly related to who you are.

 

The outside personality reflects the deepest workings of the mind and heart. Would it not be better for me to not watch (or read) of such violence and instead watch or read stories of redemption and forgiveness? How am I able to be forgiving when all I fill my head with is violence? This violence is not just physical but emotional and verbal as well. When I watch and read violence, I take it within and it becomes a part of me. So, too, with love and forgiveness.

 

Given a choice, I choose love and forgiveness over violence of any sort. I am unable to completely separate myself from the violence of this world, nor would I want to. I just don’t want to take it in and allow it to become a part of me. If I am able to do that, then I am on my way to having a modicum of integrity and strength of character.

 

God calls each of His children to accomplish different things. What is right for me may not necessarily be right for someone else. My main concern needs to be, in this case, focus on what I feel God wants me to do and let societal expectations fall by the wayside. There is a balance between being in the world, yet not of it. And, perhaps that is the crux of the matter.

 

 

Reconciliation by Josefina de Vasconcellos