Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The View From Here: Doing Our Best, posted by Nancy L. Agneberg

It is early morning, and I have returned from a walk. For the first time in weeks we slept with the windows open, and I woke to the sounds of neighborhood birds, instead of the alarm. I have decided to write before I take a shower and before I attend to morning routines. No showings are scheduled for the house today, but one never knows what the day will bring. Yesterday, for example, there were two showings.
     Obviously, we have no idea what life will bring us either. I think about those who are dealing with major challenges of illness or loss of spouse through death or divorce or perhaps even indifference. I think about those whose retirement is not quite as planned. The energy isn't there or the motivation or the money. The question is what will we do with what life has delivered? 
      We are asked, I think, to do the best that we can. How often have we used that phrase? So often it is used in reference to our parents as we look back at the mistakes they may have made in raising us. "They did the best they could." Now with grown children, I can apply that to myself. Or can you recall your child as he learned to tie his shoe or struggled with a math problem or a new piano piece, saying, "I'm doing the best I can" in an exasperated tone?
     The tricky part is knowing what "the best" is. Doing the best we can takes reflection and self-awareness. It takes being open to spiritual growth and listening to our inner voice as it urges us to live our essence. Doing our best requires being honest with ourselves and knowing when we are just getting by. It means asking for help--perhaps more often than we want to.  None of this is easy when we are faced with a life we didn't anticipate and certainly didn't ask for, but that's why it is crucial to live fully right now when perhaps our very best isn't needed so much. That's why I write in my journal and take a morning walk and meditate and practice centering prayer. That's why I try to live my life in honor of the Divine. It's for today, yes, but it is also for all the days when life brings what is not expected and least wanted. The days when I am at my worst. Developing one's spiritual gifts is not an insurance policy for "when bad things happen to good people," but it is the groundwork for "doing one's best."
     I am coming to realize in these later years of spiritual formation that it is my job to turn the challenges into blessings. I don't mean to minimize or deny the realities of the challenges, and I don't mean to imply that this process happens right away. Certainly not. What I mean is that we are asked to remember and re-form to all we have been created to be, and how could that be anything but a blessing. 
    Our house is on the market and has been all summer. We continue to have lots of showings. Lots, and I am grateful, but it is hard to hear negative comments about the house, including ones about the view from the deck.  However, we know how fortunate we are not to have to sell the house. Still, we have a plan and are eager to move that plan forward, but who knows what life has in store for us.
    In the meantime, I will do the best I can, and I happen to love the view from here.