what did i do yesterday?

Each morning we are born again.
What we do today is what matters most.
– Buddha

What did I do yesterday? Was I a decent person? Was I kind and giving? Or was I mean and stingy and withheld the better part of me because I was feeling selfish? There is nothing I can do about yesterday. It is gone forever and can never be reclaimed. I can only do something about today.

What I do today matters because today will soon be yesterday and I don’t want to be wondering tomorrow why I wasn’t a better person today.

Of course these words are easy to write. They just flow from my head to my fingers like water and yet when it comes time to put them into action I am a miserable failure more than I am a brilliant success. I want to be kind. I want to be generous and giving and magnanimous (to use a $3 word). But – but – oh, the buts.

But I had a headache so I was grumpy. But I had to work overtime so I was rushing and didn’t speak kindly. But I had to wait in the long line of traffic so I’m not letting anybody ahead of me because if I had to wait so should you. But someone cursed me out on the phone and yes that may be my job and I have to take it from customers I don’t have to take it in my personal life and I am not going to. But the car won’t start and the bills aren’t paid and there’s no money in the bank. But, but, but.

I have all kinds of excuses for not being kind or generous or loving or giving or noble or, or, or. Excuses are easy. Overcoming them is hard work and sometimes I just don’t want to do it. I want to be mean. I want to be grumpy. I want to be unkind. I want to yell and scream. I want to be selfish.

Then somewhere along this road I come back to myself and remember God. Is God unkind? Is God mean? Is God grumpy? Is God selfish?

Or is He Loving and Kind and Compassionate and Forgiving and Just and Balanced and Accepting? He is All those things and More. And I am but one benefactor of His Grace and I must be like Him as well as I can. The spirit in me, the Divine in me, drives me to be like Him. I will never be as He Is but I am driven to try.

So each morning I am reborn. All that matters is what I do today. That I try to be kind, gentle, graceful, loving, unselfish, noble – all those things God Is, I try to be. Maybe today I will be brilliantly successful in at least one of them.

smooth 3

serving humanity

The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.
-Leo Tolstoy

If my sole purpose in life was to serve humanity then it would be a very bleak existence, at least for me. Not everyone is cut out to serve all of the time. It is good for all people to serve one another frequently, but to serve at the detriment of my own happiness and well-being is another thing entirely.

I wonder what God thinks of someone who serves humanity without joy? The key ingredient in service to others is joy and love – without those two components – service is all just smoke and mirrors, at least for the one serving. The souls on the receiving end of service may have a different opinion – they may consider it to be from God and are therefore eternally grateful.

I am reminded of a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode where this man (murderer, actually) was compelled to give everything away – literally everything – and when all his money and possessions were gone (which included his wife’s and children’s money and possessions as well) he started giving away parts of his body. As a living donor, he gave a kidney to a person he later had killed because she wasn’t utilizing his gift in an acceptable (to him) way. That kidney was then transplanted into another patient. He eventually confessed so he could be free to donate a lobe of his lung to another person.

That character took serving to the extreme, but I suspect there is someone out there who has done something (or is doing something) similar. In his case he had a long-standing grudge about his father that drove him to give so drastically (and probably a mental illness as well). There are people who give until it hurts, but it is a sacrifice that only few are called to, and I am not one of those. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be more of a servant to humanity than I currently am.

So how can I be of more service to humanity? By being kind and compassionate. By letting others cut in line ahead of me. By not being mean and stubborn. By not letting my frustration with incessant questions show. By taking the time to say ‘thank you’ to a kind person.

These all seem like small, seemingly meaningless gestures, when in fact they are probably very big gestures – at least in the spiritual realm. The physical world doesn’t recognize small gestures and the giving of the unknown man or woman goes unnoticed. But maybe that’s the way God wants it. The unknown man or woman who serves humanity is really serving God. They serve in humility and grace and love. The man or woman who makes a big show of serving for humanity is the one who is actually serving himself and no matter how much he states, he is not serving God. At least that’s the way it seems to me. Forgive my judgmental attitude. I say that mainly to reinforce how much more I need to give of myself. And how much more I need to serve humanity, and in turn, serve God.

 

101_2239 2

doing good for good’s sake

You will find, as you look back upon your life,
that the moments when you have really lived
are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.
–Henry Drummond

What is it about giving that makes a person feel good? I remember this one episode of Friends where Phoebe was trying to do an act of kindness or good without it making her feel good – meaning she was trying to do it because it was the right thing to do not because it made her feel good. As I remember it, she wasn’t able to do it.

Perhaps we have to have the ‘good feeling’ to do it. Maybe God made us this way so we would do good for others. After all, we are selfish creatures, which we need to be in order to survive. If we weren’t selfish, there would be no more children, no more food, no more anything.

So if we are unable to perform an act of good will simply because it is the good and right thing to do, what is the harm in all of that? I suppose it is where your intentions lie. God knows what is in our heart of hearts. Only He knows what our true intentions are and He still loves us.

I may say I forgive so-and-so for whatever they did but if deep down inside, way deep down, I still harbor a single thought of anger or disappointment or sorrow for whatever it was so-and-so did, then I truly haven’t forgiven them, even if I believe I did. Oh, it is too much for me sometimes.

I just don’t like to think too hard about what God really sees in me. If I did I would be so depressed all the time, way more than I am already currently dealing with, and Puritan work ethic be damned, I wouldn’t get out of bed to even feed my furbabies, let alone go to work and listen to people whine all day about how their lives suck. Some things are better left to God and His wisdom and this is one of them.

So I go back to the question Phoebe tried to answer – is it possible to do good without some payoff for me? And if even if there is a payoff for me, is that a bad thing?

 

Angkor Wat, Cambodia