Monday, January 18, 2010

Since the house is on fire, let us warm ourselves (old Italian proverb)

The first time I read this, I laughed. I was not sure of just why it was funny, but something inside of me recognized the truth of it and knew it to be wise. It also struck a cord of “oh, darn” – what is it that life is now calling me to deal with? I am tired of needing to cope with life’s stressors. I am tired of needing to do more emotional work. I am tired of the need to change perceptions. How about good old status quo? But the fires in life come uninvited and surely. They can be started by others or by ourselves or just by spontaneous combustion.

As Huxley said: The choice is always ours. The fire is not always our choice, but how we respond is. Attitude is everything. Eventually we decide whether to escape, to let the fire consume us, or to turn the tables and use the heat to our advantage.

The good/bad news is that every life eventually has pain and loss and grief. We can choose whether or not to find the opportunities for growth and insight in each struggle. The expression “Older but wiser” comes to mind.

Some of the gifts of struggle and loss and the warming factors are: acceptance of powerlessness over most people and events; the awareness that I can change things about myself that may have been part of the kindling; the growing knowledge of and reliance on God in my life; the ability to listen better; the willingness to love others even if I would not choose to have lunch with them; the focus on all of the joys and blessings that remain; and the trust that the fire will be contained in time.