I have contemplated what I would write, given the opportunity to explain what I believe for the better part of the year. I thought I should have soaring words of wisdom, given that I am now “a half-century” as my teenage daughter loves to remind me. However, I often found it difficult to express what I believe because it is far easier to comment on the things that I don’t believe. But as the year draws to a close and the cold of winter draws contemplation nearer, I find that I can distill what beliefs I hold….which are perhaps anachronistic for these times, but worth considering still.
I believe in the inherent wisdom of the Golden Rule. Jesus knew what he was talking about when advising that the goal is to treat others as one would want to be treated. There is a quiet dignity in treating others with kindness and consideration. Not so much for the expectation of receiving recognition or a pat on the back, but because it makes me feel good that I have not deliberately caused anyone else any pain or trouble. It doesn’t hurt me to take the time and really, time is the only thing that we have that is a constant.
I believe that there is nothing wrong with hard work. People were designed to work, to be busy doing something and it might as well be constructive. If the hours of the day are not filled with work of some kind, then the tendency is to create “work” and as often as not, this “created” work can be destructive …. harming either the environment or our own bodies. Even those things I look at as recreational – hiking, gardening, canning – are work. There is a quiet meditation that can be found in something as mundane as weeding my garden that can’t found anywhere else. I believe that it also important to recognize that practice and drills are more important than the outcome. The moment of “winning” something is fleeting, but the strength, endurance and patience that comes from the repetitiveness of practice endures far beyond the moment. It sustains one in so many other aspects of life.
I believe in being content with my circumstances, whatever they may be. I have learned things of value during the times in my life when I have had to struggle that both sustained me during those struggles and have provided a grounding when struggle is no longer necessary. At any given time, I know that, but for the grace of God, I could be struggling with something much, much worse than I am currently facing. Those same struggles have also been a blessing because they make me appreciate so much more the times of peace and plenty. I have learned to be content no matter what my circumstance is in the moment and to not continually wish for other circumstances.
I believe that there is much to be learned from a review of this nation and its individual citizens during the period of the Civil War. There was an attention to duty and country that is not to be found today. A willingness to do what is necessary for the greater good, no matter what the personal sacrifice may be…. a willingness to not be self-centered. I believe we were created to be creatures of a community, not single entities. It is in the community where I believe we can find the most peace and self-fulfillment.
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