Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thoughts on Commencement

          This past Saturday I was at my university's commencement ceremony.  As always it was an inspiring and moving program -- even though as faculty, I had to sit in full cap and gown regalia in the blazing sun for two hours.  However, despite the heat, it was still an important and significant time.  As I watched the young men and women excitedly rush up on the stage to get their diplomas I found myself remembering my commencements of a few decades ago...  High school!  Our graduation was held at the large tabernacle in the center of our small town of Logan, Utah.  I don't remember anything anyone said. What I do remember is feeling like I couldn't WAIT to get out of this small town and do something HUGE with my life.  That wasn't to be for four more years, however.  I went to college in the same little town.  But I do remember talking late into the night with some of my friends after my high school graduation. We  tried to guess where we would all be in ten years.  We couldn't imagine 40 years in the future.  Everyone thought I would never marry and be some powerful business woman.  Oddly,  I was married about a year later. Proof that you really don't have a clue what is going to happen when you are seventeen or eighteen.
        My college graduation was more exciting. It really was the end of school.  The ceremony, was outside and we were very hot in our caps and gowns... Some things really don't change!  Anyway, I was so hot that I somehow managed to slide off the jacket to my dress under the gown and slither it  out through the sleeve.  I am sure if anyone was watching they may have thought I had removed my entire dress.  But it was just the jacket.  I was so intent on getting cooler that I again, didn't remember any of the uplifting advice the speakers gave us.
         Maybe graduation ceremonies aren't really for the graduates.  They are too busy thinking about their after parties.  Maybe graduations are for the rest of us--to help us mark the time that has past.   I wonder how many of our graduates on Saturday remember what was actually said.  Or how many will remember it 40 year from now.  When we are right in the middle of the experience - I think we are already ten years down the road, thinking about the future. And consequently,  missing the moment.  That very special, specific moment when we truly turn a corner. We have completed something.  We are "commencing" into our new lives. Whatever that looks or feels like.
        It's probably a good thing we really can't tell the future.  Oh, I think we can guess at what might happen. But my life didn't do anything the way I thought it would.  If I had known then what I know now... I would have tried to dodge some of the heartache. Some of the failed relationships. Some of the bad choices in food, haircuts, jobs.  But if I had avoided those things, I wouldn't have my children today or my wonderful granddaughter!  We have to experience both sides of the equation. Bad stuff and good stuff. Stupid actions and brilliant ideas.
        As I watched the breathless young people float by heading for their moment when their name is spoken, I felt a certain wistfulness for their optimism. Their shining innocence.  It occurs to me that what makes us old is when we lose that optimism.  When we have been knocked down so many times we don't even want to try any more.  The young don't know this and they run headlong into walls and off cliffs. But they do try. And some will make it just because they tried.  When we get so old that we stop believing in our dreams, we stop trying. And if we don't try ... we certainly won't be knocked down. But then we won't achieve anything either. 
       It's not that I want to be young again (well maybe fewer wrinkles...) No, I don't want to go through all THAT again.  But it is important to remember that life is always ongoing.  It is always new every day.  I really don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. I really don't know if I can or can't achieve some dream.  Just because things didn't work out 20 years ago or ten years ago,  or five days ago, doesn't mean that is what is true at this moment, today.  What is true is that this is a brand new day.  At then end of every day we graduate to another day.  And so it goes until we one day take a final step into a REALLY BIG AND DIFFERENT REALITY.  But until that happens (and I am in no hurry), I need to feel that breathless anticipation of a each new day.  I need to stand up and walk straight and excitedly into tomorrow.  The party awaits.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

God Things: Talking to God

I talk to God.  Its not like I actually hear a voice. I just talk to God in my mind. All the time. Sort of a stream of consciousness thing.  I actually get some of my best insights when I have these conversations. If you are reading this, if there is something that resonates with you - great! If not, then just consider this a flight of fancy of an overly imaginative woman.  The truth is - I get a lot out of these conversations.  So literally the other day while I was talking to Him, he suggested that I write some of these down and share them.  The conversation went like this:

God: Why don't you share our little talks?
Me: Because everyone will think I am insane.
God: So?
Me: So? Why should anyone care what you and I talk about?
God: Because they talk to me too, sometimes. And I want them to know its o.k.
Me: So I get to risk seeming completely bonkers to everyone on Facebook so that they will feel good about talking to you?
God: Sure. What difference does it make what they might think?  Plenty of people already know you are bonkers.
Me: Thanks God.
God: I'm just sayin...
Me: Well - how do I know you are really talking to me and this isn't my imagination.
God: You don't know. But you have to have faith.
Me: What if I get the wrong message and transmit it?
God: It could happen.  People don't always hear me clearly.
Me: Well.. I don't want to send the wrong message.
God: And that's why I think you can do this.
Me: Well, why don't you just talk to everyone personally.
God: I do. All the time. Some listen. Many don't. But you do. I like that.
Me: Ok.  So, is there anything you want people to know?
God: Yes. That I love you! With a huge love. And that there are going to be some really difficult times ahead, but turn to me.  Listen to me. Trust me and it will be ok.  I really want to bless you all.  I am here all the time waiting for you.
Me: That scares me when you talk about difficult times....
God: I know it does.  It's not meant to scare you.  When people pretty much forget about doing what is right, tough things can happen.
Me: Well, couldn't you stop those bad things?
God: Yes, I could. But you all have free will and have to learn to do the right thing.  It's like a baby learning to walk.  He has to fall down to learn how to get back up.  What people don't know is that I actually prevent a lot of things from happening.  I extend my Grace many times.  You all have no idea how sad it makes me to see people suffer. You are all my children.
Me: But you let it happen anyway?
God: Yes.  Sometimes.  There are reasons things happen the way they do.  As humans you can't see the big picture.
Me: Ok.  I don't want to suffer. I don't want bad things to happen.
God: I know you don't.  But I am with you always.
Me: I thought this would be a much more fun conversation.
God: Let's talk about your dreams.
Me: Can we?
God: Sure.
Me: How do I know if my dreams are what you would have me do?
God: If they are good and beautiful and lovely. I am all for them.
Me: What if they are difficult or even impossible.
God: Well, nothing is impossible with me... If you know in your heart that your dream is something good, something that could be helpful to your family, your community, your world.  It's a good dream.
If it is something that is illegal, immoral... well obviously that's not a dream from me.
Me: Well, what if I want a car or a diamond bracelet?
God: Depends upon your purpose for these things.  If a car will help you better serve your family or do your job better, why not?  A diamond bracelet is really more of a gift isn't it? Perhaps what you really want is something that illustrates love to you. There is nothing wrong with any beautiful object as long as you can afford it and it doesn't cause undue suffering somewhere.  But dreams are bigger than cars and bracelets. Dreams are about how you want to live your life. The kind of impact you want to have.  The way you want to be able to serve your community, your family.  Dreams are about how to use your very special gifts to express my love to the world.  Thats what dreams are about.  Money, cars, bracelets etc. are things that come and go. They are icing. Dreams are the cake.   Dreams are about doing that thing, or going to that place that is in your heart.
Me: I like that. I like to dream.
God: I know. I like that about you.
Me: I am going to go now, God. I want to think about my dream some more.
God: Good.. I will be right here with you. Come back anytime.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Finding My Way

It seems that one week I will have figured out the very essence of life and then the next week - I can't remember why I am doing what I am doing.  Maybe that's why I like writing. It helps me keep track of all these random ups and downs, brilliant ideas, and boring thoughts.  Later when I look back at what I have written, I am sometimes amazed at some of my insights. Like I didn't have them at all. Someone else did and I just typed.  And then other times I am horrified at how mundane it all seems.  But perhaps that is how life is.  Moments of clarity followed by longer moments of fog. I heard someone compare people to the twinkle lights on Christmas trees.  Basically blinking on and off at random times. Aware one moment and lost in a dream world the next. Its amazing any of us get anything done. Its equally amazing we are capable of communicating at all.  My three year old granddaughter is the personification of my thought process.  She will come up to me and say, "Read this book! Oh look at the cat! Tigers are orange. My knee hurts." Hard to know exactly what to do with that little three year young conversation. I might try to read the book to her but her knee hurting was what was really going on.  Its sort of trial and error with little kids.  And with me too.  I think I want one thing, but in reality something else is really bothering me and I don't want to deal with it.  If I have a sudden urge for chocolate, for example, it probably means I am upset about something, or about to have a feeling.   But frankly, I'd rather have chocolate than a feeling.  It's just hard to do all this deciphering.  It's like a code. chocolate = sadness. Boredom = fear.  Maybe. Or maybe it just means I am actually bored, or hungry.  I am still trying to figure it all out.