As I write these words, they are the unedited thoughts spilling from my heart.
Death comes unexpected. Unlike a guest or a friend who let you know ahead of time, death doesn’t ask permission, it just arrives. So, as we search for our humanity, we find our humility in the acknowledgement that everything we own, all that we have accomplished, and everyone we hold dear, was never really ours and that nothing lasts forever.
Saturdays are a time to spend with family, run errands or read a good book. Today was like any other Saturday afternoon, until I received news of the passing of my friend’s father. With this news, I shifted my focus to the more sombre task of paying my respects, and I was suddenly overtaken by a new self-awareness. I have been so self-absorbed of late that I had become less contemplative of the ephemeral nature of life. We spend so much time and energy focusing on our career and striving to provide for others that we don’t prepare for unexpected adversities. We dilute the meaning of success and lose sense of priorities. Then, in the blink of an eye, so much can change.
Social platforms have become a community of learning: we post and network with others in an attempt to learn better practices, improve our strategy and further our professional aspirations. Finding the right balance and reflecting upon what we can glean from these communities can be cumbersome at times, as we are bombarded by countless posts, activity and a plethora of buzzwords that can distract more than inform. As we scroll and take it all in, it’s no surprise that the oldies are still the goldies.
Somewhat of a taboo word, love is probably the subject of more posts on Facebook than on LinkedIn, as if to say that it should describe our personal persona, but not have as much of an impact on our professional one. We forget that love is the foundation of everything, that we are, after all, the product of that special bond. Find love and hold on to it. It is as magical, as it is spiritual. Love is oxygen. Sadly, most of us have forgotten how to breathe.
So much is said about meditation and so little about faith, they are two faces of the same coin: if meditation enables us to see the unseen and visualize the objective of our yearning and the destination of our journey, faith is the road we travel on to get us there. Faith humbles us, reminds us that we are much smaller than the world around us, inspires us that when things go wrong, there is always a higher force with a different plan. Faith empowers us to hold the whole universe in our heart.
Love and faith combine to give us the strength to see with the heart what the eyes cannot see, to hold in our imagination what the hands cannot feel, and to speak words that we would not otherwise have had the courage to utter. Belief is our chest expanding after angst and fear have constricted our heart. Belief is a pure reflection in the mirror, where there was once just an empty stare and the absence beauty. Belief teaches us to respect the rights others have over us, to do good and to serve without expecting anything in return. Belief releases us from the worldly shackles, so we can raise our gaze upwards to the reality of what truly matters. When we believe, we learn to fly, to stretch out our arms and embrace the beauty of God and the godliness of others.
As much as we need to look after spiritual health, we need to look after our bodies as well. In Hinduism as much as in Christianity, we are reminded that the body is like a temple: keep it pure and strong. Through the physical body, we receive gifts from the external world and give back to it. Good health means looking after the planet as well. Any action that does not improve our health and that of the environment, is an action not worth committing.
As we become stronger, more capable of loving and believing in what we cannot see, we gain self-knowledge and the confidence to achieve tomorrow what we lack today. Hope teaches us that we can carry the weight of the world, as heavy as it can lay upon our backs, while standing firmly in place. Hope teaches us to appreciate that from weakness, we can derive strength. Hope teaches us to accept that when faced with adversity, we can draw on inner strength and motivation to adjust and adapt, to overcome a challenge. Hope is what we discover when we reach the summit, it is the expanse that lies before and beneath us. When we radiate hope to others, we change the world from a dark shadow of a thought, to the bright glimmer of opportunity.
Today, when I heard mention of death, I was reminded to be grateful for all that I have lived. I am grateful for the raindrops on my forehead on a spring morning; for the cool of shade on a hot summer day; for the warm breeze playing through the trees on a quiet fall afternoon; and for the pristine beauty of a white winter morning. I am grateful for all the gifts of the seasons and the secrets life has revealed to me. I am grateful for the hand of my child at birth reaching for my finger, and grateful for the hand of my father clinging to my own as he took his last breath.