A young friend posted on Facebook this morning that she hates life and for someone to f*** off. I was astonished as this was one young lady I thought pretty much had it together. I have no idea what prompted this statement, but I do know I have felt that way. Coming for the other end of the age spectrum, I could only comment, "ooh. hands folded. experience has told me it does get better." Not probably what she wanted to hear right then. But what I hoped it communicated was, yes, it does suck once in a while. But it really does get better....better with experience. Life does go on. It does drain you of every ounce of vital life energy you have sometimes, but, if you push through, it does get better. Really. If nothing else, experience has taught me that.
Here is why I am grateful for experience. It has taught me that nothing lasts forever, not pain, not joy, not anger, not even passion. What these things do, however, is morph into something else. It is often called experience, but what it really is, is you. You are your experiences. Experience informs what you do everyday, every moment. Without experience, we would be pure stimulus and response running around in a world that is nothing more than a flash in the pan. We learn from our experiences. And if we don't, well, we get to experience them again until one day we look up and realize that we are the sum total of our experiences and how we handle them.
It is up to us every day to interpret what life hands us to grow and to move on. That is why we form relationships, participate in daily activities and reflect and dream. It is up to us. But we are not alone. So I say be grateful for whatever comes your way. It is a lesson, whether it be pleasant or unpleasant, but it is yous to learn. And let experience be the teacher it was meant to be.
"Former Friends". That says it all. Friends that are no longer friends in your current circle. Friends though, that had a lot to do with forming who you are. Friends, who although they are not longer in your life, taught you something about what it meant to be a friend in spite of no longer being your friend. Former friends.
I am grateful for the friends who no longer are in my life for one reason or another. I look back and know that I contributed to the end of the relationship. These are people I spent a lot of time with. We ran around together to the movies, bowling, plays, just hung out, whatever. But then something changed. Something that had been bothering them about me suddenly came to the fore. It was enough for them to no longer want to be my friend. It caught me by surprise. I won't say it didn't hurt. But I also can't say I wasn't guilty of whatever way I had let them down. Intentional or not, I had not been the friend they wanted. And obviously they were not the friend I thought they were.
And that's okay.
People grow. People change. We evolve. We get stuck. But the amazing thing about former friends is just that: they are formers. They formed a lot of who I am today. They taught me to be more aware of myself and how I come across. I have to admit that in those relationships I was also guilty of tolerating things that I should not have. That, too, is another lesson to be learned from former friends. If something bugs you, it should be addressed. Often it hits on a nerve with yourself on something you do like about yourself. That's a tough one...but an important one. Awareness is the key. And the willingness to learn.
That is why I am grateful for my former friends. They were instrumental in the formation of my character and content today. And truthfully, I still love them as if we were still close. And somehow I like to believe, they feel the same. Just not in the same room.
It wasn't until I started attending my current church* that I came to understand what All Saints Sunday is about. As I understand at, in Catholic tradition, it is the day we commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. This I interpret to mean, those who have to named as saints in the church. At my progressive protestant church, we tend to believe all persons who have transitioned from their earthly form into the realms of heaven, can be considered saints...no matter their status or condition here on earth. To us, all can be forgiven, and God welcomes home all his children.
Today I am grateful for all the saints in my life who have passed on, died to this world, and taken up residence in the halls of my memory and chambers of my heart. I am grateful for all they gave me in this life, the things they taught me, shared with me and that gave me insight into who I am today. For me, they are not dead. They are always with me, and I with them. I am grateful that this never fades, never changes, never dies.
In gratitude, I celebrate the day by remembering those saints and pray that I am passing on what they passed to me during this, my life here on earth.
*At First Congregational Church, Riverside-United Church of Christ, we have a tradition of lighting candles of those who have departed this world during the year prior. We also lay upon the communion table mementos and souvenirs representing those we wish to honor. It is a simple yet powerful way of remembering.
Rob McMurray, self described muser extraodinaire.