Sunday August 11, 2019

“Carpe diem. Sieze the day!” Those words linger from my re-watching Robin Williams’ 1989 classic “Dead Poet’s Society.” In it, Mr. Keeting, affectionately called “O Captain my Captain”, is the obscure new English teacher who invites his students to start thinking for themselves before life takes over. As I savored one of my favorite movies from my own teenage years, I am reminded of how easily “seize the day” can get lost from our day to day living. Soaking up the important things that refuel our life force is as much a spiritual practice as prayer or meditation.

During our worship service today, our pastor spoke about the sabbath. What intrigued me was that the idea of sabbath isn’t just in resting but in finding delight. And finding rest and delight shouldn’t be relegated to one day, but through regular practice. How wonderful it is that a faith community is discussing how to find rest and delight in a time when we desperately need to de-stress and calm down. These things leave you feeling both grounded and centered which allows you to more adeptly maneuver everything around you.

Quakers have this idea that our connection to Spirit is our own ‘inner light’ and that connection to source is deep inside us. It is up to each of us to shine that light as brightly as possible. I can think of no better way to shine bright than to practice seizing the day. I started going through “The Artist’s Way” this week. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it is Julia Cameron’s 12-week guide to living life as an artist and in creation. It too has brought reminder to the importance of being among creation and creating your own work can be practices to fuel purpose and meaning to your soul and life.

I am about 10 years removed from a major life shift where I began to acknowledge that I had stop living the way I was and go in a new direction. In the movie, Neil Perry, preparatory school student and the leader of the “Dead Poet’s Society”, faces the dilemma of sharing his newly bubbled dream to act on stage or defy the course of the 10 years of boarding and medical school his commanding father has meticulously and forcefully planned. Similar to Neil, I too once saw my life at an impassable crossroads. I needed to move in a different way but I believed at the time that the pain was no longer possible to bear. And much like Neil, I tried to take my life. Talk about the antithesis of seizing the day! I am fortunate enough to have made it beyond my near fatalistic belief that I wasn’t strong enough. I could in fact endure the pain of the transformation that was about to unfold. I was lucky to be given a second chance.

Physical transformation led me to seek new ways to take better care of my whole self. About a year into my journey of taking better care of myself physically, I came to the conclusion that I had to figure out how to find more joy in my life. If I was ever going to be happy, simply doing the right things for my health was not enough. Cue savoring the zest of life and finding more gratitude. I am still on a journey to exploring what gets my inner light shining bright, but it has been practice, not perfect, that have led me forward. Seize the day has become a tool and practice to living life more fully most days instead of sitting and hoping for things to change. And for that I am grateful.

How do you manage the ongoing grind of life with still fueling your own inner light to seize the day? Have you had to endure times when the pain felt too much to bear? What pulled you through?

With love and light,

~Bill

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