I have not always embraced my journey. Growing up, I definitely had times when I completely wanted to reject my journey. I didn’t want my cross. Now, more or less, I have accepted it. I think acceptance came with the realization that this life is only temporary. It’s not forever. When I die to this life, I will be born again to heaven – a place of freedom, a place of love, a place of worship and song, and a place of beauty. In my wildest imaginings, I do not even come close to the splendor that awaits. Our heavenly life will be everything this life is not. Pain does not exist there. Separation from God is impossible. Sadness will be eradicated. This is the promise I cling to. I will open my mouth in heaven and talk and not be stared at. I will run, jump, dance. My bodily scars will fade from sight. They will no longer exist. And I hope there will be horses in heaven because I want to ride again. I hope there will be unicorns. I know there will be magic. Maybe not my exact idea of magic here on earth, but heavenly magic. The purest kind there is.
When I was a child, I lost myself in books. The Secret Garden – Mary, Dickon, and Collin were my friends. Collin learning to walk again in the garden was a miracle, and I have always been one to believe in miracles. Someday, I believe strongly that I will walk unaided in a garden. I will stand on my own two feet, my own strength, and I will not fall. A Little Princess – I found refuge in Sara Crew and her magic of make-believe. One thing I learned from her is that if you believe in something enough and you want it badly enough, then it has a way of surprising you and actually happening. And ahhh, Little Women. Jo, Meg, Amy, and dearest Beth. How I loved them. These characters were more than characters to me. Reading was how I escaped from reality.
And I knew in my dreams, I was free from my physical limitations, and I know now that heaven will not be too different from that. Once upon a time, it was disappointing to me when I woke up and found everything exactly the way it was when I went to sleep. I guess that is when I started having trouble sleeping. I didn’t want to visit my dreamland knowing that sooner or later, my time there will end. Better not to go there at all, I thought. But it proved to be impossible, because after all, I am only human, and humans need sleep to survive.
So embracing my journey, for me, has been a process, and I still struggle from time to time. This is my life, according to my mind and my heart, and someday, it will be a thing of the past. I have earthly dreams. I have earthly goals. I have things to do, places to go, people to see. People to meet. Some will only be in my life for a little while, but many others will stay. And every day is another chance to make a difference, to change the world. It is not always easy, but it is worth it. It has to be, because otherwise, what is the point of all this pain and suffering?
Last week, I read a status on Facebook that was shared from another page. This mother went to the pharmacy to get her daughter’s prescriptions filled (the little girl had just been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor), and was wandering the aisles, lost, hopeless, sad, etc. Suddenly, an annoyed voice cut through her thoughts – “I said excuse me.” The mother had annoyed a perfect stranger by standing in the middle of an aisle so that the lady couldn’t pass with her cart. The insensitive stranger didn’t think about what the mother was going through, probably gave no thought to the poor woman other than the fact that this person was in her way. This insensitive stranger was only thinking of herself. But what if she gave a moment’s thought to why the woman was standing there looking like the bottom of her world had fallen out from under her? She didn’t need to get angry… she just chose to. We all make decisions like this every single day. We don’t know everybody’s stories. We can’t know, not unless we stop and take the time to know it. Judge not, lest you be judged yourself. I wonder what the insensitive stranger would have done if it had been her in the middle of the aisle and the mother with the cart? How would the insensitive stranger deal with the terminally ill daughter? If she had looked more closely at the mother, would she have recognized a soul in pain and reached out, instead of being nasty?
This world is not a compassionate one unless we make it so. It starts with me and you and the next person as well. Instead of striving for perfection in our own lives, let us strive for perfection in our neighbors’ lives. And yes, by neighbors, I mean the lost-looking strangers at the pharmacy, in the streets, in line at the bank, sitting quietly in a corner at Starbucks, etc, etc, etc. You’ll never know another person’s story unless you take the time to know it, and when you can’t know it, you can still treat him or her with kindness. We have to not only embrace our own journeys, but also those of the people surrounding us, whether they be family, friend, or stranger.