I read a quote the other day that got me thinking. Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest, professor and author of 39 books. His passions included social justice and the community. He taught in academic institutions and then worked with people who had disabilities. He asked, ‘Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.’
At the end of each day, what are the questions you ask yourself? One can get caught up in trying to do as many things as possible and getting lots of things ticked off the 'to do' list. This can make one feel like a mouse on an exercise wheel, running as fast as possible but not getting anywhere. Maybe you are so exhausted you collapse into bed and don’t reflect on the day at all.
When I reflect on the day perhaps the important things for me to assess are those valued by Henri Nouwen
• Spreading peace
• Making others smile
• Saying kind and healing words
• Letting go of any hurt and anger
• Forgiving others
• Showing love to others
I have given these things some thought and considered what they mean for me.
I find things work better if I can approach things in a calm, peaceful way. I don’t always achieve this but it’s my aim. Approaching life in a calm way usually makes things go with less drama.
I find my day goes so much better when I share smiles with others. Often these are people I do not know but we just exchange a smile, for no particular reason. Perhaps something amusing happens that makes us smile. At other times one of us makes a mistake and we decide to laugh it off rather than getting upset about it.
Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say that will heal hurt feelings or how to respond to someone in a crisis situation. I can only do what I can.
Holding on to bitterness or remembering negative comments makes me feel bad. There are times it is difficult to let go. Sometimes doing something like writing down my feelings and then ripping up or burning the paper has been therapeutic for me.
Forgiving and showing love to others is sometimes easier said than done. Some people are just difficult to deal with. I guess all I can do is my best and not dwell on these situations. I think I also need to forgive myself for the situations I don’t handle well and for the times when I am judgemental. As well as showing love to others I need to show love to myself.
It can seem the things I do in my daily life don’t make much difference or don’t count for much. I like Nouwen’s idea of trusting that the little things one does with love will multiply now and in the future.
Sometimes we read a quote and it really makes us think as we interpret the words and apply them to our own lives. On occasions we may not interpret the quote quite the way it was meant. Probably the important thing is to think about it and take something from it.
Thoughtful article Marie. I was brought up a Catholic and we were taught about the "little way" of St. Therese of Lisieux. We also were taught to do a morning offering where we offer up all we do during the day and at night examine our conscience on how our day went. It is something that has stuck with me.