Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Monday, July 18, 2011

Unspoken Truth is Spoken Everywhere

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.  ~Author unknown, variation of an excerpt from "The Serenity Prayer" by Reinhold Neibuhr

What if I had done more than go through the motions?

What if I had confronted another when I knew their path was wrong?

Oh, wait..."I" knew their path was "wrong"... 

Everything in life holds both a blessing and a curse.  When we label or judge something to be either good or bad, we deny this reality. One of my favorite Zen stories illustrates this lesson better than I could ever hope to explain:
A farmer had a horse but one day, the horse ran
away and so the farmer and his son had to plow 
their fields themselves. Their neighbors said, "Oh,
what bad luck that your horse ran away!" But the
farmer replied, "Bad luck, good luck, who knows?"

The next week, the horse returned to the farm
bringing a herd of wild horses with him. "What
wonderful luck! cried the neighbors, but the farmer
responded, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"

Then the farmer's son was thrown as he tried to
ride one of the wild horses, and he broke his
leg. "Ah, such bad luck," sympathized the neighbors.
Once again, the farmer responded, "Bad luck, good
luck, who knows?"

A short time later, the ruler of the country
recruited all young men to join his army for battle.
The son, with his broken leg, was left at home.
"What good luck that your son was not forced into
battle!" celebrated the neighbors. And the farmer
remarked, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"

"Do not judge, and you will never be mistaken."

This ZEN story came to mind this morning after opening my NIV Bible, looking for direction on how to manage mounting stories regarding someone for whom I care. I drifted through pages until Psalm 19:1-4 seemed to pull out to my fingers:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world. 
This morning I was wrestling with the questions of do I confront?  Do I stay quiet? And then I found Psalm 19.

Using the discipline of Lectio Divina, I began reading, and as you can see, I did not get far! " words." and " sound." then "... their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

It is my inner Demon who screams
at me to react and to worry.
Sitting with these words, the Zen story of judging something as being good or bad came to mind.
"But!" my mind screamed, "What is happening is wrong! It will cause so much hurt!"
My "reaction" is to confront, yet I hear another voice whispering through the clamor... "San, how do you know whether this is good or bad?"

"Of course it is bad! How could it not be bad?"

"San, how do you know?"

Yesterday I preached on Genesis 28:10-19, Jacob's Dream. One thing that struck me as I sat with this familiar story was that Jacob never got on the stairs. It was the angels going back and and fro from the earth.  God was there...overseeing everything while Jacob slept.

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.

Last evening, expressing my concern with a good friend, he challenged me with the truth from Matthew 7:1-5.  I didn't want to hear it because "I" know what is right and what is wrong!

This morning, I discover the lesson from Psalm 19 for me to consider. Eugene Peterson paraphrases Psalm 19:2 saying:
Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.
After a night's rest...  After sitting in the quiet of a new day... After sitting with a few words of scripture that reached out and touched my heart...  After sitting with other truths that came as I was still...  I came to realize that what I can offer is peace and I cannot offer peace into this struggle, until I know peace within myself.  As the same friend reminded me months ago when I was struggling with my dying uncle...wanting to offer him peace...
  "San, you cannot offer something you don't have."
I am much healthier emotionally and spiritually than I was a few years ago, yet, I still at times "jump", wanting to fix something or someone, when the only person I can "fix" is myself.

Sitting here this morning with these verses of scripture from Psalm 19, I realize the best gifts I can offer this situation are:
1. Resist labeling it as being either good or bad.
2. Focus on the "log in my eye"...focus on myself, the only person I have the power to change.
3. Remember Jacob, sleeping as God and his angels worked within and among the happenings on this earth.
4. With these thoughts, trust God to be within and among those I love and in trusting know peace within myself and to offer that peace to the world.

Let There Be Peace on  Earth - the Indianapolis Children's Choir

Lord, I do want to do more than just going through the motions of acting like a Child of God! Spirit, help me to trust you and in that place of trust, trusting you to be at work within the lives and relationships of those I love! Lord, again, help me to move from going through the motions to taking each moment, to living each moment in peace and then, Lord, by your grace and power, may I offer that peace to the world...AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. Thanks for sharing. A wise lesson and a difficult one indeed - when to speak and when to remain quiet :)

    This Good Life

  2. needed the story about the good luck, bad luck - I am so quick to judge or "evaluate", and I know it is not my place to do this.