Things Happen

“I have walked the long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”    –Nelson Mandela

This has been a week of some big changes for David and I.  As with all changes, they always come at a time right when you have just settled in to being comfortable.  I guess we needed a reminder that nothing in life is that certain, and that you can never really predict the future with complete accuracy.

In trying to accept those changes over which I have no control, I have been trying to remember the things in my life that are essential, true, and enduring.  So in this week where I “celebrated” thirty-four years of my life, I was reminded about that elder statesman who celebrates ninety four years of his life this week.  I may never be the kind of person he has been; the kind that school children know by sight and revere. Every so often, a person like him lives who reminds us of the potential for good that each of us has inside ourselves and can teach me that even in my ordinary, small life, I can be a good person, regardless of the external things that “happen” to me.

“The curious beauty of African music is that it uplifts, even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope.”  –Nelson Mandela

I didn’t make it to Paul Simon’s Graceland reunion concert in Hyde Park, London this week. However, I did watch the documentary about the making of the album and its original tour, “Under African Skies.” I was too young in 1986 to understand the controversy surrounding the making of the album or what a cultural boycott even was. By 1992, when Mandela invited Paul Smith back to South Africa to do another Graceland tour, I was old enough to understand that apartheid was coming to an end, and that was a good thing.  Paul Simon introduced me to African music. He  might not have sung explicit “protest” music about South Africa, but Graceland taught me the way that lives can be changed for the better by introducing ourselves to something foreign and realizing that human emotion is a commonly shared feature of all human experience.  Life only gets better and richer when we turn outside of ourselves.

So that is what I am trying to focus on during this less than ideal birthday week.  I believe, quite literally, that all truth and goodness comes from God.  We hear witnesses of those truths in our lives if we look all around us.  That recognition helps me cope with change.

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