Martin Luther King penned this quote 49 years ago. I am fearful that it still holds true today, doesn’t it? I have been thinking today about whether he might think he lived a satisfied life.
I have been remembering a visit I made to the home he and his wife shared for a number of years in Montgomery, Alabama. They lived there during the period he led the Montgomery Bus Strikes. It was a very simple, modest home. I imagined as our host toured us through this simple dwelling, that it was a home where meals were served and prayers said. It was a home where laughter rang and tears were shed. It was a home where more than one handmade bomb was tossed upon its porch. And I wondered, “is this a satisfying life?” And I have to answer, “YES!” For Martin Luther King was a man who chose to live what he believed to be true.
May we be reminded as we think of his life, that satisfaction will never come in our abundance but in our willingness to reach beyond ourselves to love God and to love our brother, as we love ourselves.
When most of us think about a satisfied life, we think that it must include happiness. But what is happiness?
Perhaps these words from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer will lend some perspective on the topic. He penned these words to his fiancé after serving nearly two years in jail in Germany and just days before his execution.
You must not think that I am unhappy. What is happiness and unhappiness? It depends so little on the circumstances; it depends really only on what happens inside a person. I am grateful for every day and that makes me happy. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
If we are thinking about creating a satisfied life, it really might depend more on what is happening inside us than what is swirling all around us.
a surprise hibiscus bloom in winter….sheer delight!
How is this for a satisfied life? Yes, that’s our seven-year old golden retriever/lab mix, Kelsey. When I started working in Virginia this past fall, she started going to the couch where I often sit to read or nap, to take her nap. Satisfaction? A dog that misses you and knows how to get comfortable! And my having grown mature enough to let her remain comfortably on the couch.
Happy New Year!
I am often asked, “what is a satisfied life?” A picture is worth a thousand words so this year, I will be sharing pictures of all the ways that I and so many of you are living a satisfied life. I hope you will enjoy and hope that you will send me pictures that describe your satisfied life.
Here is my first entry for 2012:
For most of my life I have dreamed of having a home where I could see the mountains. Today we do, in the Foothills of Western North Carolina. For me, that’s part of a satisfied life. Each time I look to these hills, I am reminded of the source of all of life.
Psalm 121:1-2 “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help…my help cometh from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
As you begin this New Year, may this picture remind you of the source of all life, all help and all hope.
Christmas Day has passed but Christmas isn’t over……and I am not talking about the gifts that now need to be exchanged or returned. Christmas Day actually begins the twelve days of Christmas, ending on January 6, the day of Epiphany. This article suggests a great way to honor and acknowledge this continuation of the celebration of Christ’s birth. I am going to do what it suggests. Want you join me? And if you do, let me know how it goes!
It is Christmas Morning! In the past weeks, most of us have spent hours shopping in stores or on line, addressing Christmas cards and baking sweet treats. Some of us have spent time considering what this Holiday will be like without someone we loved dear and we’ve prepared and planned to accommodate the grief that overrides our longing for a joyous spirit.
Some have spent hours making lists and checking off lists, going here, going there…….all focused on “getting ready”, preparing for Christmas. But on this Holy Christian Holiday, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I can’t help but ask myself, “What have I done to get ready, I mean really ready for the birth of the King I say I believe in?”
A friend recently shared that a wise priest once told her, as Christmas drew near, “your heart is like the stable where the Christ child was born,” he said. “Put clean straw in it.”
George Herbert, the English poet and priest, in his poem, “Christmas” said it like this:
“O Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light, wrapped in night’s mantle, stole into a manger…..furnish and deck my soul, that Thou mayst have a better lodging…….”
I am convinced that I haven’t done near enough to prepare for this day and for the birth of a King.
Yes, all the gifts have been bought, all the cards sent, the cookies made, the ham baked. I read my advent readings daily and tried to stay in touch with the Christ that we worship this Christmas, as I prepared in so many earthly ways. But how inadequate I feel when I remember what God did for me. He gave us His only son. A son that came to earth in human form, to show us how to live, and ultimately gave us His very life.
No wonder the Angels sang and the heavens exploded with his Glory! This baby was God himself.
How do we respond to such a gift? Perhaps it is as simple as the Psalm from which it comes, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…..” May my heart, my life, be a cradle fit for a baby King.”
The Psalmist writes:
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—You are breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation! ….Psalm139:13-15 MSG
I know that passage by heart and yet I more often pray it…….
“Oh yes, you formed me inside and out, formed me in my mother’s womb but God, did the thighs have to be so wide? The hips so round, the hair quite so gray and oh, Lord, this stomach is bound to belong to another mother……”
Saying thank you for our bodies, is just about the last thing most of us are thankful for this Thanksgiving season. We grouse and complain, we long for a different shape, a different size, a different look and yet, the scripture says it, clearly…….You and I are wonderfully, marvelously made.
So, in this Thanksgiving season, for just once, will you look in the mirror and say, “Thank you God” for a body that lives and breathes and is miraculously made. “Thank you God” for what you so wonderfully created. “Cause me, encourage me, to love and care for it so that this body you gave to me, just me, uniquely me, might be worn with joy and special care and thankfulness.”
“I thank you, High God—You are breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adortion—What a creation!”
May this be our prayer of Thankfulness this Holiday season.
Finding time to be still seems to be almost impossible these days. The pace of our lives gets faster and faster and the Holidays haven’t even arrived! I can only imagine what it is all going to feel like in a few more weeks.
We live at a pace that isn’t healthy for our body, mind or spirit. Often times we make decisions on the fly, knowing we need to slow down and really look at the options but we don’t think we have time. And so we just keep moving. And moving. At ever faster rates.
I am face to face with this each day as I interface with students that are completing their MBA and/or Law degrees. The pace is fast, the focus is sharp and intense, the demands often overwhelming.
Sounds like your life, right?
I have something that will help. A simple one minute meditation. We all need to slow the pace but doing so is difficult. But we can’t continue to totally ignore our soul’s need for a respite, a stopping place. And yes, even a minute will help.
Here is what you need to do:
- 1. Find a quiet space. I know, I know, you haven’t a clue where to find one. Try your car, with the music off. The bathroom, yes, even the one down the hall at the office, a bench in a park, the spare room at your house, the laundry room (no other family member goes in there, right?!) Get creative and find a space.
- Sit down.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Set your alarm for one minute (yes, time this)—your phone has an alarm right? You can set it on vibrate if you are afraid someone else might hear it. But I don’t want you thinking about the time. Setting an alarm takes this issue away from your mind.
- Place your hands in a comfortable position but still
- Close your eyes
- Focus on your breathing, breathing steadily and deeply
- Should your mind wander, and it will, just think of a word to draw you back to awareness of where you are right now. You might try your favorite word, or the name of your favorite person, the name of Jesus, words like peace, be still, love, spirit, breathe………you get the idea.
- Just be present NOW.
When the alarm sounds, open your eyes, stand up slowly and reengage in the world around you. I promise, you will see it in a different and fresh new light.
Try a one-minute meditation. I dare you.
Check out these sites for more ideas, information and inspiration:
I have very found memories of Halloween as a child. In fact, it was one of my favorite events of the year. My father, a Baptist minister, enjoyed it as much as the kids. Families would bring their children from all over to Preacher Allred’s house for trick or treat. For hours, it seemed, the kids would keep coming, pillowcases and Halloween bags in tow, full of candy and goodies.
I don’t recall any effort to make the snacks healthy or the event generic. It was a night of ghouls, ghosts, witches and scary creatures. Of princesses, fairies and clowns of every type. It was simply fun, foolish and an event to look forward to.
It seems that I remember that candy wasn’t as available as it is today so getting that much candy, in one night, was a treat in itself. I also don’t recall that we got much of a chance to dress up and walk around a night either. So add those two together and it was a sensational event, an event that brought a community together for a good time.
I followed the same pattern with my own children. Except I guess I sought to buy a few healthier food alternatives and yes, I let me children dress up like ghouls and ghosts. In fact, I remember two of the cutest witches I have ever seen, leaving from my house one cool October evening headed into the neighborhood with glee and a lot of laughter.
Well, I guess this is a different time and there are greater risks in places where we don’t know our neighbors and in a culture where horror is magnified on the movie screen. What a shame.
I don’t think I warped my kids by allowing some Halloween fun and I don’t recall being negatively shaped by being raised by a pastor father who thought Halloween was a night to be experienced! What I remember is a family event that was creative and fun filled.
Like most of our Holidays, this is one has some pagan roots. But it doesn’t have to be our focus. What can we make of this candy filled, fun filled night?
All things must change I suppose and perhaps this is a tradition that has reached that time. But I have to admit that I am thankful to have experienced it. A ring at the doorbell and a loud “trick or treat” will always be a sound that brings a smile to my face.
Hey Ramona, can you pass the candy corn? And Pam hand over the jack o lantern peeps.