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Friday, May 31, 2013

Above Average

Life is a sea of statistics and I was interested to learn yesterday that among American women I have passed the average age of death. I think I know why. It’s because I’ve kept my childhood without being too childish. There is a difference, you know. Besides that, put simply, I’ve been lucky. I was born rich. Not in worldly wealth but in familial love and decency and in gratitude for daily supply and the joy of living. Above all, I am grateful to have had early instruction in the Christian way of life that does not get bogged down in dogma or blind faith. 

My daughter-in-law told my son, “I think I know why your mother always looks on the positive side. It’s because she’s good at letting go.” I was happy to hear that because I think it’s true. You’ve probably heard the story of how certain natives captured monkeys. They took empty gourds, tied them to trees and put grain inside them. When the monkey found one he’d reach in easily but with a fist full of grain he could not pull his hand out of the gourd. Being stubborn, he’d hang onto the grain until he was captured. My philosophy is to see good everywhere and in everything. Then I can let go of the good that traps me. 

Another reason I think I’m living this long is that I’m not afraid of what is called “death.” I’m not even afraid of the problem that might precede my demise. Why? Because I take life one day at a time and am so busy gleaning the good out of it I can't be bothered too much by what goes wrong. If the wrong can be righted, I’ll address it in practical ways. If not, I’ll let go of it and turn my thought to better paths. 

I know of a man who became totally paralyzed from his neck down. He was a Christian Scientist and asked not to be treated by the medical faculty. His wife hired a person to come in daytimes while she went to work to support them but before she left for work she would feed him and get him ready for the day. To occupy his mind he asked to have the textbook of his denomination, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, set before him. His wife propped it up on a book stand in front of him and opened to page one. Each day he’d study one page and memorize it. His physical condition continued for ten years but he kept mentally alert by the book. He never gave up. Then, after all that time, he began to see physical improvement. Soon he was able to move, and before long he was up, walking, and in full use of his faculties. This has been documented and you can look up his name, Peter J. Henniker-Heaton, on Goggle to see his testimony. 

No, I don’t believe in blind faith but I do believe that faith can see beyond the limits of what appears real to the five physical senses. I believe there’s a spiritual universe all around us, even a heavenly kingdom that we see and understand faintly at this stage of our development. We’re like infants, aware enough of heaven to recognize the difference between good and evil, but not comprehending the full scope of it. When we get it wrong or misinterpret, we cry. We stumble and fall, but we pick ourselves up and go on. We let go and we find new discoveries. We learn, sometimes through science, other times through suffering, to be obedient to the law of Love and we live because of it. In the end we find there is no end. No beginning either. Just the Infinite, the Only, the All.

As for today, a little poem my mother gave me when I was a child has served me well as a morning prayer. I don’t know the author but here it is:

Now I rise at the dawn of day
Knowing God is my only guide.
In thought or deed, in work or play,
I know that He is at my side.
He is my help in everything.
He goes with me and rules my day,
No matter what the day may bring
Since I reflect my God alway.

I cannot claim great achievements in life or brag about anything, for that matter. I’ve been lucky, (fortunate is a better word.) I’ve focused on the good and let go of what seems bad, and I’ve treated each day as a little child would, with joy, gratitude and a mind full of wonder. Tragedy, war, fear, may spook me at times, I may fret and cry over both the trivial and serious, but this child in me just gets up, dusts herself off and marches on. That’s why I can say I’m a little above average in longevity. In other things I'm not so sure, but I do keep attending this school of life. I'm not ready to drop out quite yet, let alone graduate. I regret not striving more for perfection in all things, but at least I can claim to be above average in age. That's something! 

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