A Life Well-Lived

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), the 16th President of the United States, observed, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.”  In other words it’s how we live our lives that matter most.  Are you concerned with your wellness?  It may be many aspects of your life:

  • Foods we eat, meditations, and our mental health
  • Infectious diseases, and the vaccines that prevent them
  • Genetic conditions – allergies, depressions, and addictions
  • Exposure to radiation – medical X-rays, and nuclear fallout
  • Pollutants – cigarette smoke, pesticides, and chemical waste
  • Trauma – car crashes, and wounds from combat
  • Relationships – spiritual, marital, family, and friends.

Although negative these aspects of life can be unexpected gifts.  Sholom Aleichem (1859–1916), a leading Yiddish author and playwright remarked, “Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.”  It’s what we bring to life that matters most.  As the saying goes, “If life offers us lemons make lemonade.”

Things Happen

The longer we live we realize that awful things happen for no apparent reason.  It’s just the way life is.  We may plan for rainy days but when they come our plans may still be lacking.  Some biblical teachings admonish us to be even happy in trying times.  Dalai Lama (b. 1935), the 14th and current Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhist monk stated, “The true purpose of our lives is to be happy.”  This must be our goal.  We’ve to do our best to be who we truly are and it’s best to be happy.

In our society medical treatment takes up a large part of the gross domestic product.  Gautama Buddha (563/480 B.C.–483/400 B.C.), an Indian sage advised us: “To keep the body in good health is a duty … otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”  Long before Christ, Buddha realized that there was a mind-body connection.

What we can do?

For wellness there are some basic steps we can take.  Michelle Obama (b. 1964), a former African American first lady of the United States, said, “We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu.  We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity.  And we can help create a culture – imagine this – where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them.”  Obama was concerned about people’s health and of us having an adequate diet.  Her focused was on children since they are the future of our country.

There are also spiritual needs that are just as important.  It’s for us not only to utter prayers, but offer up our works to be blessed by God.  Let your actions speak clearly about such gifts and witness how the blessings flow.  Larry Bird (b. 1956), a retired professional basketball player was certain: “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”  Bird might be talking about basketball, but this game is like life itself.  All work, its pains, griefs, planning, and decision making have to be exerted for the best results.  This is how life is well-lived.


Improve Lives

A four-time Gammy Award winner and singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman (b. 1964) observed, “I have seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.”  Much can be said about the simplicity of angels.  Many are people we take for granted and not making a fuss over.  But they go about their business with an unexplained urgency.  Divinely inspired their walk among mortals is considered to be especially special.  You find them feeding the hungry, comforting the poor, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless.  Just reflect on this quote from Saint Mother Teresa (1910–1997), Blessed of Calcutta, a Roman Catholic sister and missionary who said, “We can do no great things – only small things with great love.”

Small Things of Love

By 2012 in some 133 countries Saint Teresa was known to direct 4,500 sisters.  Her Mission of Charity is alive among the helpless of the world.  She herself was in the slums of Calcutta tending to those with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, and was prominent in providing soup kitchens, dispensaries, clinics, family counseling, orphanages and schools to benefit the poor.

Saint Teresa was undoubtedly a beacon among us.  She shone a light on the rejected in India.  Adherents of her charity have followed in her footsteps.  The great need amongst the tens of millions around the globe continues to be great.  Demand increases yearly as the worldwide population grows at an alarming rate in India, China, on the continents of Africa, and South America.

New Skins

Snakes, salamanders and frogs shed their skins regularly.  For these species such shedding is a sign of growth and development.  Humans too do a different kind of shedding.  Theirs can be viewed as a metaphor.  This can be seen as spiritual growth – changing from the “old you” to a “new you.”  Such a life brings vitality that’s spiritually, physically and emotionally uplifting.  It’s seen in an awareness of how we interact with the least among us.  Loving our neighbors and embracing their families is a way of shedding our “old skins.”

Help Others

Professionals have used their calling to help others.  But, are we doing enough?  It’s being like Christ to feed the poor, cloth the naked, and care for the destitute.  This attitude is by taking up a lifestyle of service.  It’s good to have an outlook like Dr. Jonas Salk (1914–1995), a developer of a vaccine against polio when he remarked: “I feel the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.”  When he died Dr. Salk was pursuing the goal of finding a vaccination for HIV/AIDS.  His life’s work was a culmination of years of dedication to painstaking research.

Our work in the world calls for many hands at the wheel.  Planet earth is crying out because it’s broken. Christians have to pick up their cross and follow Christ.  We’re all shining lights in a broken world, weighed down by sin, abuse, drought, famine, war and disease.  As Americans we may not be presently experiencing afflictions like some of our brothers and sisters in other countries.  But, let us give a helping hand when and where we can.


Life’s Lessons

God meets those who rejoice and do righteousness, for he’ll remember their ways and they will be saved (Isa 64:5).  As we plead with God for his name’s sake, he’ll pardon our iniquities (Ps 25:11).  When he forgives our sins he remembers them no more (Heb 10:17).  God blots out our thick clouds of darkness when we return to him, after we’re redeemed (Isa 44:22).

Gifts about the lessons of life might be hard to learn.  Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X (1925–1965) said, “There is no better than adversity.  Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.”  As the saying goes if you try and try again at last you’ll succeed.  Our experiences may well be filled with pain, sorrow, and grief, but as Malcolm X pointed out that behind these, there could be rainbows to spur us on.

We must however not leave God out of our decision making.  A track and field athlete Allyson Felix (b. 1985) remarked, “The most important lesson that I have learned is to trust God in every circumstance.  Lots of times we go through different trials and following God’s plan seems like it doesn’t make any sense at all.  God is always in control and he will never leave us.”  Interestingly, this is one of the keys of successful living.  We can always depend on him and he’ll never disappoint us.

Life & School

Life’s lessons might differ greatly from those we learn in school.  Tom Bodett (b. 1955), an author, and radio host reminded us: “In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test.  In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”  Lessons in life are real.  They can be spontaneous, unexpected, and revealing at the same time.  All we’ve to do is open our eyes, accept them for what they are, and learn from them.

Concerning lessons, there’s one which is greater than all others.  Elizabeth Kȗbler-Ross (1926–2004), a Swiss-born psychiatrist remarked, “The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”  To love unconditionally is an extraordinary blessing which we are freely given by God.  That’s when our love has no boundaries, no restrictions, and negative thoughts are all washed away.

A Tough Lesson

A journalist and former news anchor for CBS Evening News, Dan Rather (b. 1931) was practical when he observed: “A tough lesson in life that one has to learn is that not everybody wishes you well.”  Amazingly, some outstanding people do great things, but they are greeted with criticisms.  It must be remembered though that all of us have faults.  But, justifiable criticisms could be construed as disrespectful and unappreciative when viewed negatively.

A motivational speaker Louise L. Hay (b. 1926) wrote, “Each one of us decides to incarnate upon this planet at a particular point in time and space.  We have chosen to come here to learn a particular lesson that will advance us upon our spiritual, evolutionary pathway.”  Daily we learn through the gifts that teach us.  It’s best learned these as we journey through life.  To Christians, it’s their basic belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  They drink deeply of his teachings and encounter life as free men and women blessed with an abundance of grace.

Leadership Qualities

As you’re looking out for saints improve your leadership qualities.  Voluntarily follow the religious and accept their basic goodness.  Your objective is to become holier and holier.  By so doing, you’ll be achieving the highest good.  This eternal truth one accepts as crucial to life.  Once embracing these basic gifts you’ll see the face of God in the people you meet.  This is the faith every good shepherd experiences.

Clarence Beldan Randall (1891–1967), an American businessman and CEO of Inland Steel, commented, “A leader must know, must know that he knows and must be able to make it abundantly clear to those about him that he knows.”  Such leader can only speak with such certainty through the Holy Spirit.  We’re unable to know Christ by being slaves in the world.

Authentic Evangelism

Jesus Christ was the greatest evangelist who ever lived.  He decided to die on the cross for our sins.  With his death we’ve received abundant blessings and everlasting hope.  He spoke to us in parables and showered us with divine goodness.  In his rather humble life he overcame all kinds of trials.  Through him we encountered truth in its perfection.  That was, and would always be, his beauty that he courageously demonstrated.  He’s our merciful Father who has taught us freedom, peace, justice, and brings joy to our hearts.  This is why through his spiritual leadership we’re able to spread hope and bring the Gospel to the world.

John Austin (b. 1928), an English cleric and theologian remarked, “The crucified Jesus is the only accurate picture of God the world has ever seen.”  It’s through his crucifixion, love being a sacrificial lamb he has revealed his deep and unending affection for us.  It’s the way he chose to show this love to all – Christian and non-Christians alike.

Edith Newbold Wharton (1861–1937), an American novelist had it right when she observed: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they have much more to talk about.”  In talking about God’s sacrificial acts, fills our hearts and minds with peace.  It’s unbelievable how he laid down his life for sinners like us.  He willing did so.  He’s the beginning and end, and the new light which shines brightly in our hearts.

Turn Around CEOS

Parish priests can be likened to many things.  But it’s good to see them as our turn-around CEOS that bring lasting change.  With Christ as their head they are outstanding role models.  It must however be remembered that it’s only through the Holy Spirit they are empowered.  We observe them help parishioners grow in faith.  These priests serve as the sounding board of people.  Wisely, they often administer their offices, and promote good works with a sense of humor.  By their commitments, parishioners are filled with joyful and receptive hearts.  And they spread the good news about their churches and ministries.

Walter Lippmann (1899–1974), an American journalist declared, “There is no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil.”  Often, parish priests confront detractors who disrupt their flocks.  They do so by speaking the truth about divisiveness.  Divine truth always means freedom from the enslavement of sin.

Spirit of Collegiality

It’s for laypersons too, to oppose evil by sharing the good news.  With simple kindness, the beauty of creation takes us to unexpected places.  The Word of Truth is alive and well.  It’s best to find it in the fullness of the spirit.  In our quest we must never become tired of forgiving, but instead, be authentic in sharing Christ’s love.  In finding the joy of serenity and peace, let streams of hope flow to others.  As spiritual warriors we’ll continue to look at Christ’s death and resurrection with awe, and as being the basis of everlasting happiness.