I had one or two conversations this week which led me to reflect on how to live life where we find ourselves, when there are so many places elsewhere that seem more attractive, more lively, and have more to offer. Sometimes the place where we are can seem so small and limiting. Then I came across these thoughts from the always stimulating Parker Palmer and he sums up what I was thinking, and says them much better than I could ever do. So I simply offer them here for reflection:
I love this poem, and it needs little commentary from me.
Behind it lies a question many of us ask ourselves from time to time: Given my small, ordinary, un-famous, and fleeting life, what can I do that’s of true worth and value? Then it offers an answer that I find simple, real, moving, and doable.
I re-read this poem occasionally and ask myself, “Using everything I have — including my own ‘costly gifts of hunger, choice and pain’ — what can I do today to keep raising the ‘modest shrine to meaning’ I’d like to create with my life?”. Maybe it’s planting a tree, maybe it’s a random act of kindness to a stranger, maybe it’s offering comfort to someone who’s hurting, maybe it’s writing a thank-you letter to a mentor who saw your potential and drew it out…
There’s always something meaningful I can do to honor the gift of life in myself, others, and the world around us. Just do it!
Leonard Nathan, So
you aren’t Tolstoy or St. Francis
or even a well-known singer
of popular songs and will never read Greek
or speak French fluently,
will never see something no one else
has seen before through a lens
or with the naked eye.
You’ve been given just the one life
in this world that matters
and upon which every other life
somehow depends as long as you live,
and also given the costly gifts of hunger,
choice, and pain with which to raise
a modest shrine to meaning.
Parker Palmer, Your Life is a Shrine to Meaning