September in the Rain
I haven’t written in a bit. September was difficult. My Mom was hospitalized, and although she recovered and is back in her nursing home, it was an emotional few weeks. The uncertainty of living far from her, and relying on strangers with her primary her care is very emotional. I must rely on their goodness.
Then there is the sad state of the world.
Hurricanes hit the South, and Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, where many of my relatives live. These are not relatives I have seen in years but their lives matter to me. Puerto Rico is where my father grew up and it has always held a fantasy island glow in my life. Watching it torn apart and then the disappointing response from the federal government is painful.
A co-worker I really respected passed away. It still hurts.
Additionally, although it was a difficult choice, my husband I decided it was time to start attending church in the city in which we live. We’ve been attending a beautiful, wonderful church with beloved friends for seven years but we want to be part of a church community closer to our home. The decision, and communicating it to people, has brought both agony and relief.
The Capricious World
I’m reading a book that has helped me through this, aptly called The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life. I was attracted by the name, but the chapters are helping me focus on living a good life in the middle of chaotic moments.
The authors relate the thinking of Mencius:
He saw the world as capricious. Hard work would not necessarily lead to prosperity. Bad deeds would not necessarily be punished. There were no guarantees of anything: no stable, overarching coherence to the world that one could found on. Instead, Mencius believed, the world is fragmented, in perpetual disorder, and in need of constant work.
Grim right? Not at all, for there is hope:
And it is only when we understand that nothing is stable that we can make decisions and live our lives in the most expansive way.
I’m Christian and I do believe in love and justice but I tend to agree with Mencius’ ideas about the world we live in being chaotic? How do we ground ourselves in a world where war, pain, discord and disappointment are rampant? Mencius’ answer and the answer that I find most compelling is to develop our goodness. Choose Goodness.
What matters is those small acts of kindness every day, and nurturing goodness towards others.
. . .Goodness is something we can nurture in our everyday lives with the people we’re with now.
Small moments fill a day, and days fill years, and years fill a lifetime. Start small.
Goodness Can Be Many Things
Maybe it means being good to yourself and taking a trip with someone you love that rescues you from everyday cares. Maybe it is taking time to feed hungry people in your community. Goodness can include being patient with the elderly or children. For some, it means being a caring parent. Goodness can mean doing your very best at your job, or volunteering for work that matters.
It’s the every day choices to be gentler and better.
The Talmud says it better than I ever will: it’s important to do what you can and do it now.