In my particular culture, the word 'endure' is a word that carries a lot of weight. I often hear, "We must endure to the end!" Somtimes said with eyes closed while the speaker emphasizes the word 'endure,' (as if that makes it more believable) the phrase has always bothered me; because in all of our endurance and making it to the end, we forget the joy that can be found in the here and now.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that life isn't hard--it is. But even along the most difficult parts of our path, joy awaits if we allow our hearts to be open to the possibility.
I recently lost my father after a long illness. It was, and is, hard losing someone, anyone, close to you. There were moments before he passed when I would think, "Can this please be over now?" Not that I wanted him gone, but rather, for his suffering, and to a lesser extent our family's suffering, to be eased.
I live about four hours from my dad's home. With traveling back and forth, delegating work assignments and managing life, I was overwhelmed. People would ask me questions and I would forget what they had asked before I could respond. I couldn't sleep. I seemed to spend my days pacing around the house (I work from home) and would begin projects only to walk away a short time later. My mind and attention were always over the mountains.
As he became weaker, I became more distracted. Paying attention to the 'endurance' of my schedule and personal demands overshadowed my ability to find the joy in my days. I was kindly reminded by a friend to, "just breathe" (at least once a day,) and to try and find the joy my journey.
Shortly after he went into hospice care, I was able to be with him for ten days. It was a gift to be able to say goodbye, to laugh, to cry, to just enjoy time together. For me, it was some of the most precious time I have ever spent with my dad. During this time I was able to be still and just breathe. This is when the labor in the birth at the end of this life, called death, became joy.
One afternoon, I was sitting on the couch with my dad. The afternoon sun was streaming through the windows. The house was quiet. Dad was dosing, and I closed my eyes for a moment...grateful for time.I vividly remember breathing deeply in, and at the same time feeling a sense of peace come over me.
The circumstances hadn't changed, but rather my ability to deal with what was happening had changed.
Of course, the moment didn't last, there were other difficulties awaiting just around the corner, but then again, isn't that the way it is with life? We can choose to focus on how hard everything is all the time--and it is hard, or we can choose instead, to recognize the gifts around us, and find the joy.
So yes, endure we must, if that's the word you want to use....but as for me, I will enjoy...
Enjoy to the end.
How do you enjoy your life?
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