Monday, January 07, 2008

second chance grace

"We all must hold the cups of our lives. As we grow older and become more fully aware of the many sorrows of life -- personal failures, family conflicts, disappointments in work and social life, and the many pains surrounding us on the national and international scene -- everything within and around us conspires to make us ignore, avoid, suppress, or simply deny those sorrows. "Look at the sunny side of life and make the best of it," we say to ourselves and hear others say to us. But when we want to drink the cups of our lives, we need first to hold them, to fully acknowledge what we are living, trusting that by not avoiding but befriending our sorrow we will discover the true joy we are looking for right in the midst of our sorrows. "

Henri Nouwen

I still haven't found what I'm looking for.............

Not yet, anyways. But isn't that the journey of life? We are inherent seekers and doers. It's in our genes. It's in the salt found in our spirits. It is in the salt found in the food and drink we share with our friends and family. It is in the salt found in our tears.......flavouring our lives, as we learn and grow from trying. We may not get it right the first time, or the second or the third OR even the fourth time. God, we may not ever get it right, but what is a life where at the end of it, we haven't sought out and explored the world and the people around us?

What is a life where there is no reflection emanating back at you? What is a life of avoiding risks, of hiding from the truth, of not recognizing mistakes or celebrating accomplishments? It is one of suppressed regret.

It is a life of coulda woulda shoulda..............ooooops it's over.

What if you woke up one morning at 75 years of age with the stark realization that your life was not what you expected, or that you didn't do the things you wanted to do? Would you be paralyzed by the belief that it's too late to do anything about it? Would you beat yourself up emotionally to a point where you couldn't recover from the disease of regrets? Or would you be able to grab hold of a second chance, dust yourself off, make some decisions and start moving forward in a new direction?

Personally, I'd like to avoid experiencing that epiphany then. I want to reach that milestone with a rucksack full of attempts..............the second chances which led to both success and failures, all flavoured with the salt of life. In fact, I want no salt left to discard. I want it all used I taste life.

Nouwen writes of learning from our sorrows. Through our sorrows, we can find joy. Our choice is clear. We can choose to allow our sorrows to engulf and overwhelm us to a point where we stop trying, where we stop reaching out for the second chance. Or we can grab hold of the cup with both hands, take a big gulp of insight, swallow our fearful pride, stomp on our guilt, acknowledge our sins.............FORGIVE our mistakes as God forgives us and keep on with the search.

At any any age..........

We are seekers...........who sometimes need to take our turn hiding. We need seclusion to stop the world around us, to find the silence, to dwell between the breaths, to contemplate success and failures. We need it. Even in our hiding spots, however, we never stop seeking.
In fact, now that I am thinking about it, I wonder if we seek more deeply when we have retreated. Sure, it's much scarier to seek in the dark, but sometimes the challenge makes it all the more gratifying. Perhaps, finding the braveheart to reach out for a second chance at twilight is what it takes to be moved by life affirming grace.

Second chance grace. I like that tasty idea.


Rainbow dreams said...

Does anyone find what they are looking for? truly?

Even in moments where it feels like this is all I could ever want, I am always aware there is more waiting to be discovered and lived...

But I think perhaps you're right - it takes the darkness, the sorrow, the failures and mistakes for us to move forward a step further towards whatever it is we are looking for.

I like the idea of trusting in being guided by a hand we can't hold

Barbara said...

Oh how I LOVE your writing.....this really hit me today, so I linked back here (on Prodigal Dot). Very thought provoking as always!

Anna said...

Beautiful. You are a wonderful writer! Take care...

Robert said...

fresh wind of the Spirit from this post dana oh how you speak to me deeply here. I pour my heart out alot about my struggles and past shane and sorrow need to let Gods grace and forgiveness free me to stop living in regret and to embrace newness of life ty for giving me a dose of encouragement to do just that

paris parfait said...

What a beautiful piece. It's all about the journey, like in Cavafy's Ithaca. I think the important thing is to try things along the way; not to face our old age with regrets of roads not taken. xo

Dave said...

Wow! I could have written this myself... Our minds are so alike on this one. I am going to head abck and re-read this when time permits. Nothing is worse than regret. I have often wondered what I would be thinking as I reflected on my life while on my death bed at 99 years old... Regret? Or would I smile to myself and have a feeling of satisfaction waft over me.

Thanks for this post! :-)

Mark said...

This is a great reflection. Yes, we must taste the salt and find the joy and lessons in the taste of the salt of life. Be not afraid of failure, be afraid of not trying. Live, fail and suceed with passion!
Great post!

Tori said...

How are your work days Dana? I hope things have eased up a bit from when you wrote about the co worker challenges previously. I have been thinking of you and am constantly amazed at your awareness and spirit.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Well....this is a very provocative and thoughtful post....Being 76, and struggling with some Health Issues and the many losses of dear friends around me---Sometimes all you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and look for inspiration from wherever you can, as you struggle through this thing that is stupidly called "The Golden Years".....the so called Golden Years, SUCK, bigtime....In many ways, one doesn't have time for regrets---You are too taken up with the business of getting from one room to the other! (lol)
Seriously....being on this side of what you are talking about, I feel I have spent my life in contemplation and the search for "what's it all about, Alfie?",(with no real answers, by the way) and "creating"....Most people I know of a certain age are still "creating" and looking to the future in whatever way they are able...."Where's Theres Life There's Hope"...mostly. Regrets? As the song goes..."I've had a few....."
But that is not what I dwell on....Or at least try not to....Because that does NOT get you from One Room To Another....
What gets you from one room to another is looking forward to something, even if it is just looking out the window at the Beautiful Day....And in my world...continuing to "create"....

This is too big a subject to try to put into a few sentences...And I find it fascinating that each time I come here, you have written something that is wonderfully contemplative and makes us all stop and think and 'feel', too. Thank You for that, and for being a truly gifted writer, too!

mckay said...

what a wonderful post to read in the new year. i think i'll be back for more :0)


BreadBox said...

To me, my perfect "second chance" anthem is "The Mary Ellen Carter" by Stan Rogers. It strengthened me, fortified me, in days when things looked bleak: and the lines
"And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow,
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go,
Turn to and put out all your heart of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again"
can still give me pause, and strength.

Certainly there is grace that comes in a second chance from others, but sometimes we create, or help create, that second chance ourselves by not giving up.
And sometimes we can help lift someone else to where they can help themselves create that second chance, and we are grace for them.

Beautiful piece.

Perplexio said...

There's a song by Peter Cetera (he didn't write it actually, he just sang it) from his 1995 solo album One Clear Voice:

The whole world is talking
Drowning out my voice
How can I hear myself
With all this noise
But all this confusion
Just disappears
When I find a quiet place
Where I can hear

One clear voice
Calling out for me to listen
One clear voice
Whispers words of wisdom
I close my eyes
till I find what Ive been missing
If I'm very still, I will hear
One clear voice

I'm always searching
For which path to take
Sometimes I'm so afraid
To make mistakes
From somewhere inside me
Stronger than my fears
Just like the sound of music
To my ears, I hear

I think it touches on that which you speak.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

truly, our last best word.....

grace, that is....

Awareness said...

Thank you everyone for sharing and expressing your opinions on this post. I had resurrected it from last spring because it expressed how I was feeling.....and like McKay mentions, it seemed like a good message for the new year.

Katie. I do think we can find what we are looking for....if we slough away all the things that really don't matter, we are left with just a few important, a sense of belonging, and happiness. Not that it's easy to reach.....

Layla. thank you for you ongoing encouragement. You know how much I appreciate it. AND thank you for the link.

Welcome back Anna. Thank you for your kind words. I will be back visiting your blog to take in your beautiful photography.'re never going to meet anyone in this whole wide world who is more tough on you than yourself! Forgiveness begins within our own hearts....that's where God dwells, right?

Tara.....I most certainly agree. I do hope I squeeze out that last drop in the toothpaste tube before my time is up.

Dave.....I vote for the smile on your face. Thanks for dropping by

Mark. I'm glad you enjoyed this post. You know how sometimes a piece just writes itself? This was one of them. FLEW right out of me!

Tori...I'm alright. I have had my head down and out of sight and may blog about some of my adventures and struggles over the past week soon.

Awareness said...

Naomi.....I was so taken by what you's always so easy to write about the upside of things, and of course that's a good thing. But sometimes its helpful for ourselves and for others to tell it like it have provided me with some needed insight and I thank you for that.

McKay....welcome and please return!

N......As I read the words to the Mary Ellen Carter, I could clearly hear Stan Rogers belting it out....and YOU singing along. All of a sudden, I felt this urge to stand up while reading. As you know, I too find that song quite inspirational.....great driving song. There are a few zingers like this one which I LOVE listening to in the car when I'm driving on my own.....John Hiatt comes to mind right now. Oh, and of course Mr. Bruce Springsteen.
YOur last sentence is perfect! I agree. I had an experience today that floored me. The other night, I received a random email from someone I didn't recognize. He had written it to another person. It was a chatty email with updates on family etc..... So, I replied to him informing him that he had sent the email to me and not the intended person.....though I DID wonder how he got my work email address. This morning, there was a reply from this man......

He said he didn't know if I'd remember him, but I helped him in 1999 by arranging for him to have a computer to complete his studies (he had a severe learning disability and needed the computer to keep up). Since that time, he graduated with his Master's in Education specializing in Learning Disabilities, and has worked across the country in various youth programs for aboriginals. He's now located around here, working with children at risk. He thanked me again for allowing his dream to happen..........OMG! It makes me realize how you just never know when you are going to make an impact on someone.....and be a part of their grace.

Isnt that wild?? It blew me away.

Darrin....what a beautiful song. I don't think I recognize it. It truly captures it, doesn't it? Thank you.

And Paul....... Grace is possibly the last best word......though I can think of another one. let me know if you wanna know.....i'd gladly share it with you.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

i surely would now the wifi is working again

Awareness said...