Let me begin by saying there is some really good blogging out there this morning. I expected to get up and go right to the sewing machine to finish a quick, biff, bam, boom project that is now going on day 3. However, my habit (as my Dad would say) is to check my email and read my favorite blogs before I really get moving. Some days I'm good at reading, then shutting down the computer and getting on with things. Most days, I'm still sitting there long after the morning hours are gone.
This morning, my friend Terri, wrote about being surrounded by some darkness. It made her cry. And, like it usually does, it made her think. Two themes running through her post today are:
"Good doesn't always win" and "Be the love you want to see around you".
Both statements made me think of Mtr. Theresa. That sweet looking diminutive woman struck me as a person who never got mad or sad or tired. Did she ever cry or cuss or stamp her feet? I'm thinking she did, because even though the Catholic powers that be have beatified her, she was still human and subject to all the human frailties. One of the sayings I think of when I think of Mtr. Theresa is "Do It Anyway." You know, the quote found written on the wall of the children's home in Calcutta. "People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway."
After googling the quote I discovered that, in fact, Mtr. Theresa actually borrowed (and perhaps spiritually tweaked a little) from something written by Dr. Kent Keith. Seems he wrote what he calls the Paradoxical Commandments when he was a sophomore at Harvard.
"In the "Introduction" to his book [The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council] Mr. Keith says, "I laid down the Paradoxical Commandments [to my students] as a challenge. The challenge is to always do what is right and good and true, even if others don't appreciate it. Making the world a better place can't depend on applause. You have to keep striving, no matter what, because if you don't, many of the things that need to be done in our world will never get done."
After that bit of research I keep going back to Terri's post and feeling her sadness, perhaps her disappointment. I can relate to that. I am easily disappointed. In my mind it would be so much better all the way around if ... if everyone could just get along; if right would always trumps wrong; if good always wins out over bad; if love could really conquer all. There comes a time, however, in every Pollyanna's life when she must accept that life is not always easy. Probably not fair either.
That's what makes Dr. Keith's words, and Mtr. Theresa's words, and Terri's words so poignant. Even in the face of life's poopoo piles, we who believe in the resounding triumph of girls with the white hats (with a big pink full-petaled silk rose attached to one side) over adversity, even when it doesn't happen, must continue believing anyway. We must be the love, or change, or goodness, or light, or compassion, or hope we want to see around us.
I'm not one of the greatest thinkers on the planet, but I've come up with a few paradoxical commandments of my own.
Babies and puppies are fussy, demanding, and messy. Have/Adopt them anyway.
Snow is cold and damp and slippery. Make a snowman anyway.
The ocean is full of stingy things, salt that burns your eyes and sharks. Jump and play in the waves anyway.
Fresh artichokes are prickly, not exactly pretty, and troublesome to get to the heart. Eat them anyway, dripping in melted butter or Hollandaise sauce.
Old people can be cranky and gruff. Sit at their feet and listen their stories anyway.
A son passing through town can tell embarrassing tales of growing up that you don't believe really ever happened. Delight in his presence anyway.
Chocolate chip cookies, patchwork quilts, and birthday cards can be tedious to make from scratch. Stir, and sew and sprinkle with glitter anyway.
A book with small print, big words, lots of pages and no pictures can be intimidating. Read it anyway.
You get the idea. Feel free to add to the list.
Wishing for you a day without tears. If they fall anyway, I wish for you a big box of Kleenex.
*More from Dr. Keith: "I had heard lots of excuses, and I wasn't buying them. OK-maybe people are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. So what? You have to love them anyway. And maybe the good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. So what? You have to do good anyway….I know that if I do what is right and good and true, my actions will have their own intrinsic value. I can feel good about who I have helped. I don't need any rewards. In the doing, I have already been rewarded. I am liberated and at peace. In the doing I am rewarded. I already have a sense of meaning and satisfaction that comes from doing a good job. The meaning and satisfaction were mine, whether or not anybody gave me recognition…. I am convinced that no matter how crazy the world is, people can find personal meaning. I am also convinced that the world would make more sense if people lived paradoxical lives, focused on personal meaning instead of recognition and applause. While finding meaning in our own lives, each of us can make the world a better place for all of us."