We are all inspired in many ways, and since the spirit of God is always with us, the possibilities for inspiration in any given moment are endless. To be “in spirit” is to be inspired.
I often feel inspired to write … I could be anywhere, anytime, just navigating life as usual, and suddenly I’ll find myself scrambling for a piece of paper, or a napkin, or anything to write on and write with, and I’ll just stop what I was doing and let pour out of me what I feel inspired to write down. Whether anyone else finds my writing inspirational is not something I worry about because I have no control over that … inspiration is the domain of the Spirit.
So for whatever reason, I awoke this morning sometime after midnight thinking about sharing some thoughts with you … thoughts on how I hope to live today, and tomorrow, and during the new year and beyond (God willing I live). I contemplated writing a personal, hand-written, note to each of you (just like in the old days) … but then I realized that I can only communicate with some of you (particularly the younger folk) through some electronic cloud in the sky, so I’ll just go ahead and ping all of you right now, and rest assured that I am not trying to sell you anything. In any case, here are some of my thoughts … written both as intentions for myself, but also in the hope that you too might be inspired:
BE PRESENT. Since we do all of our living in the present moment, more and more I feel compelled to focus on the here and now. Our minds go off in so many directions (at least I know that my mind does), and our minds are constantly filled with chatter, and we waste entirely too much time ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. That doesn’t mean that we should not learn from the past, nor does it mean that we should not plan and save for the future. It only means that the present moment is the working unit of our lives, and that the Now is where we live right now. Turn off the mind. Smell the flowers. Enjoy. Give thanks. Breathe mindfully. Encourage. Be hopeful. Dear God, may I be present right now and savor this moment.
SPEAK LESS and LISTEN MORE. Does God do anything loudly? Does God stack word upon word in an endless stream of communication that deadens the senses and drowns each of us out? It seems to me that most everything God does is done in silence. God is the still, small, voice within. God is a quiet presence, and God loves silence. I know that my own tongue has been a flame of fire on too many occasions, and so as I move forward in life I hope to be better at taming the tongue. Dear God, may I be more like you and speak less and listen more.
BE KIND and NOT RIGHT. I really would like to let go of all judgment and let God handle the administration of the universe. It’s so easy to find fault in others, to ridicule others, to make ourselves appear superior to others … but what the hell good does that do? Sure, there are times when it is important to speak out against injustices in the world, but most of the time our bitching and moaning and arguing and criticizing and judging is nothing more than our need to be right in our own eyes instead of being kind. If God wanted to be right and catch us all doing something wrong, God could easily do that … but instead, God chooses to be kind. God’s penchant is for creating and sustaining and finding good in us. Each of us is given opportunities every day to choose between being kind and right, and it seems that choosing to be kind is always the better choice. Dear God, may I be more kind than right today.
GIVE. It could be a little, or it could be a lot … but anyway you look at it, giving is a good way to live. Give someone a smile. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Give someone a flower. Give money to the poor. Give time in helping others. Give the gift of forgiveness. Dear God, may I live to give more readily, generously, and in various ways.
LIVE WITH PASSION. We only get one chance to live this life (as far as we can tell), so if there is anything in your bucket list that you have been putting off unnecessarily, I encourage you to stop putting it off … and instead, go for it! This is a tricky one because living with passion can appear selfish, especially to those who think that they earn favor with God by denying themselves any enjoyment. It’s also hard to imagine the poorest of the poor, those who are living in grinding poverty and seeking only to survive this day, as having any notion of a bucket list; for them, living with passion means passionately trying to stay alive. How can I justify having a bucket list and living with passion when there are so many needy people in the world? One way to do it is by arranging your bucket list in such a way as to benefit not only yourself but also humankind. Focus on earning a million dollars so that you can give half of it away to needy causes. Go on a cruise and while you are in each port focus on going off the beaten path in order to find the poor who sustain themselves by selling hand-made crafts, and buy their stuff. Learn a new language so that you can one day use it to help people learn English, which is the dominant language of world trade. (I want to do that some day with my Spanish, but I must confess that my learning Spanish has been mostly for my benefit so far – I love it). Learn to knit so that you can make warm hats that you give away to the poor. Complete a marathon as part of the process of glorifying God in your body temple, so that you will be healthier and less of a burden on your loved ones and on the health care system, and so that you will have more energy for helping others. Take a dance class so that you can learn more about another culture; take an art class so that you can paint a pretty picture to hang in the local homeless shelter. There are a myriad of ways that we can live with passion that benefit both us and our neighbors in the world. Dear God, may I embrace gratefully and passionately the life you have given me to live.