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.

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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

great minds

Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.
Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortunes;
but great minds rise above them. – Washington Irving

What does it mean to have a “great mind” as Mr. Irving calls it? Is it someone who thinks great thoughts, philosophizes, has big ideas and the like? Could I have a “great mind?” Can anyone have a “great mind” or is it limited to a select few?


My take on it is this, that anyone – everyone has the capacity for greatness, if we expand our view of it. Having a “great mind” means to me that one is able to think outside themselves, to think beyond themselves to the greater good. Great minds realize that they are not alone in this world, that the world does not exist to serve them, that they exist to serve the world, to serve humanity, it whatever capacity they are able to.


The man who uses his spare time to prepare and serve meals to the homeless has a great mind. As does the woman who takes in and heals abused and unwanted animals. Or the doctor who flies half-way around the world to help the poor in their illness. Or the prayer-warrior who spends hours on his or her knees praying for people known and unknown that they may know the Grace and Love of God.


I am none of these. Does this mean I do not have a “great mind?” Or can the definition be expanded to include even me, who sits at home writing a spiritual journal that will ultimately be shared with people she doesn’t know, nor will likely ever know? Or who talks to well over a hundred people each day, answering the same questions over and over again with the same pleasant tone, even while they rail and scream and curse at her for things she has no control over?


Having a “great mind” is equal to having a purpose in life and knowing what that purpose is, or at least a hint of what it is. Having such a mind is, as Mr. Irving says, not allowing ourselves to be mowed down by circumstance but rising above it. It also means letting things go. Does it really matter that the person in the car in front of me on the interstate cut me off and flipped me the ‘bird’ as they raced away? Can I let that one go? Or do I let it anger me to the point of distraction and I take out my frustration and anger on someone else?


Great minds recognize they have a choice: choose to stop the cycle of anger or continue to let it roll forward to the next person who unwittingly steps in its path. Great minds know when to let the small annoyances of everyday life remain just that – small. Great minds remember that everyone and every creature has a place in this world and it is not up to them to decide how that person or creature moves through their day.


Great minds look to Spirit to guide them, love as they are loved, grant mercy as they are granted mercy and help as they themselves are helped.

 

 

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The Gossips by Norman Rockwell