If I see my shadow tomorrow, I will have to consider it a blessing. Looking back at the last three quarters of a century reassures me that I will make it through another “six weeks of winter”. I will not succumb to hypothermia or be buried in an avalanche. Seventy-five blessed years assures me I will survive whatever flurries lie ahead. And when that final blizzard hits, I will make it through that one too, and come out warm and dry on the “other side”.
WHY I have been so blessed is a question I cannot answer. Adopted by a loving family instead of bounced from foster home to foster home. Given a good enough brain to be able to get an education and earn a decent living. Finding a lifelong companion who is good and kind, and faithful and true. Moving to Heber Springs on the flip of a coin. Gifted with faith then turning away, but then warmly welcomed back….
We don't hesitate to ask, “Why me, God?” when the going gets tough – when we lose a loved one, or get laid off, or some serious rain falls on our parade. But how often do we ask, “Why me, God?” when we miss the deer darting across the road, or get the promotion, or we meet someone who becomes a guiding light? I have often failed to see certain moments, certain individuals, even certain mountains to climb, as blessings.
Digging through the archeology of our lives, we find relics good and bad - broken shards and shining jewels. Remnants of a good life, and evidence of failures. People who lifted us up and some who led us astray. Good deeds and wrongful acts. Taking stock is not a favorite pastime, especially if we include considering our own impact on others. How often was I a shining light. A favorite prayer we say at church asks us to think about “what I have done, and what I have failed to do”. It's easy to make a list of the regrets – the mistakes, the stupid decisions, the “sins” if you will. What I have failed to do is a little trickier.
I know I am not expected to feed ALL the hungry of the world. And the hungry do not always have empty stomachs. Some have empty hearts. Empty spirits. Some are lonely. Afraid. Shy. Depressed. Newcomers. Shabbily dressed or scantly clad. Have I greeted them all with an open heart? I have prayed for rain when mygarden was dry. Have I prayed for your garden? I have prayed for peace in myworld. Have I prayed for peace in yours? I have visited my relative in the nursing home. Did I visit yours? Do I gently discourage gossiping when I encounter it? Do I disagree without putting you down? Have I given back full measure for what I have been given? Is there enough time left to balance the scale?
Peace be with you !
(Susan Ruland is a near 40 year resident of Heber Springs. She contributes “Susan Says” each week and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)