Open to the Possibility of Good

“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”

– from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

***

This has simply been an amazing year.  As some of you know, last year I felt led to leave my job of 20 years and launch myself into The Great Unknown. I knew it was the right thing for me to do, but I have to admit that I didn’t enter this new chapter of my life without some trepidation. One of my chief concerns was what the future would hold for my sons, one of whom was attending university, and the other of whom would soon be graduating from high school.

The youngest son was accepted to the same university the eldest attends, but he cancelled his enrollment, thinking there would be no funds to pay for his education this year. He decided he’d go to a local community college instead. Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing one’s education at a local community college – but what did feel wrong to me was the reason for the choice to cancel the enrollment at the university. The choice had been based on a sense of limitation – a fear of lack – and all summer this fear seemed to permeate the atmosphere in our home.

Weirdly – considering it was my decision to leave my job that was the cause of the fears among my family members – the fear that attached itself to my loved ones almost completely disappeared from my own thoughts within a very short time after making my decision.  My thoughts suddenly open to all the good surrounding me, good began unfolding beautifully in my life. Unexpected opportunities arose for me – wonderful experiences and blessings that I never could have foreseen poured into my life.

But still… I had concerns for my youngest. He took the human steps he needed to take to prepare for the new school year – he visited local community colleges, took placement tests, had his AP test scores sent out – but at one point, about a month ago,  he confided in me that he really wished he was going to the university with his older brother.  There was a feeling of not-quite-right-ness about the direction his life seemed to be going.

What an opportunity for spiritual growth! I had to work on putting aside my own willfulness and fears about my son’s future, and trust that whatever path he took, or direction he went, he would have whatever experiences and supply he needed for his life to unfold in a harmonious and healthy way. I had to remind myself, daily, that good isn’t dependent on some specific form – on some specific school or choice. Good isn’t dependent on money. It’s here and now. And finally I reached a place, in my own thoughts, of acceptance for whatever choice my son made. I let it all go. It was, I realized, his life – and I needed to allow him to have his own life experience without interference from me.

***

Then something really wonderful happened.

A letter came in the mail from the university my son had originally wanted to attend, offering him a sizable chunk in grant monies to attend school there! But he’d already cancelled his enrollment.
Would it be too late for him to re-enroll? My son and I spent the day making phone calls and sending off emails  – emails that bounced back to us, and calls to people who weren’t available.  I began to feel anxious again.

The next morning, needing to find peace about it all, I asked my husband if he would make some calls to the university before he left for work – I needed to get away for a couple hours and take a walk. I told my husband that if he couldn’t get through, I would pick up where he left off after I returned.  He agreed to make the calls, and I took myself to my favorite walking path along the bay and opened my thoughts up to all the good around me.  Sailboats bobbed happily around on the water, dogs played in the waves, the boardwalk was full of smiling faces, and giggling children, and sunshine sparkled down on all. Once again, I acknowledged that good isn’t dependent on some specific form – this school or that school, this job or that job, this locale or that one – good is everywhere, always available, without limitation or boundary. Wherever my son is, good is there. But it also occurred to me that there was absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be re-admitted to the university – nothing could stand in the way of a right idea. I knew no matter what happened everything would be alright.  In fact, I knew, everything already WAS alright.

When I returned from my walk, my husband told me that he’d called the university, been connected to a woman in the admissions office, and that our son had been re-admitted to the university.

Within the day he was signed up for Orientation, had reserved a dorm room, and was officially enrolled at the university. A week later he and his older brother pulled out of our driveway, the car loaded with books, school supplies, bedding, clothes, and other assorted sundries, heading towards a new year of adventure and learning at the university.

There is no way we could have planned for things to unfold as they did. There is also no way we could have planned things any better if we’d tried. All that was needed from us was the willingness to open our thoughts up to the infinite possibilities and embrace them.

This is the day the Lord hath made;

Be glad, give thanks, rejoice;

Stand in His presence, unafraid,

In praise lift up your voice.

All perfect gifts are from above,

And all our blessings show

The amplitude of God’s dear love

Which every heart may know.

–         L.L.R.

“Even in this place, our lives are worth living.”

We were all absurdly out of place here, like a seahorse in the desert, or a flower on the moon. A dread began to form in my mind, an unformed thought that I was not yet able to verbalize: Life is an anomaly here, and the mountains will tolerate that anomaly for only so long.” – Nando Parrado

***

I just finished reading Miracle in the Andes, by Nando Parrado. This first-person account of the almost-insurmountable challenges faced by the survivors of a 1972 plane crash in the Andes Mountains (first recounted in the book, Alive) was really powerful. I was going to say that reading this book transformed me – but that’s not quite right. Reading about other peoples’ transforming experiences doesn’t really transform us – but it serves to connect us to them. Although few of us have ever experienced the depth of suffering that Nando and his fellow survivors experienced in the Andes, most of us can relate, in at least a small way, to feelings of grief, hopelessness, and the need to “carry on ” even when the odds seem stacked against us. Reading *Miracle in the Andes* was oddly reassuring to me – it made me realize that none of us is alone in our challenges – that others have struggled against odds that seemed impossible, and survived. Reading about Nando’s struggles and incredible perserverance against all odds, helped validate, for me, the lessons and small triumphs of my own life.

I connected to the spirituality of this book. It was written by a man who no longer believes in the traditional God of his religious upbringing. He writes: “…I did not feel God as most people see Him. I did feel something larger than myself, something in the mountains and the glaciers and the glowing sky that, in rare moments, reassured me, and made me feel that the world was orderly and loving and good… It was simply a silence, a wholeness, an awe-inspiring simplicity. It seemed to reach me through my own feelings of love, and I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence.” A little later, he writes: “It wasn’t cleverness or courage or any kind of competence or savvy that saved us, it was nothing more than love, our love for each other, for our families, for the lives we wanted so desperately to live.”

I guess that’s what stands out for me in this book – this acknowledgement of the power and presence of love, and our connection to our fellow beings. Through all the struggles and challenges, love was the one thing that kept Nando going. He committed to using every ounce of energy left to him to move his body closer to his home and father.

As Arturo Nogueira, a fellow plane crash survivor, tells Nando: “I want you to remember, even in this place, our lives have meaning. Our suffering is not for nothing. Even if we are trapped here forever, we can love our family, and God, and each other as long as we live. Even in this place, our lives are worth living.”

So long as we can love, our lives have meaning. So long as we can love, our lives are worth living.

***

“God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more?”  – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy