'My Life Flows On In Endless Song'
"No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
Never miss a local story.
How can I keep from singing?"
-- Robert Lowry (1826-99)
I woke up in the middle of the night with excerpts from this old hymn echoing from some far off place within me.
Certain phrases in the song spurred me to review this past year looking for what stands out as potentially life changing events. I examined times I experienced "Love is Lord of heaven and earth."
I recalled an ordinary event that turned out to be quite extraordinary. My husband and I had stopped in for hamburgers at Red Robin on a Friday evening when the restaurant was abuzz with activity. I scanned the crowd for familiar faces and didn't recognize anyone I knew. I then slipped into auto-pilot, tuning out everything around me. I call it going into la-la land.
Later, it came as a shock to be told a young man (about 30-years our junior) had picked up our meal tab. We talked with him and his companions and learned this was something he liked to do on occasion. At a loss for words, we attempted to be gracious in receiving his unconditional gift.
As I make the transition into a new year, I want to continue to explore the implications of this remarkable incident. What this man offered to me (by way of his act of kindness) was not only a pleasant surprise but also an experience of a new way of being in the world. I was catapulted out of my reverie into the present moment by his action.
This is a wake-up call for me! It makes me realize how my life does "flow on" sometimes in endless repetition. Locked in my mind of rhetoric, ruminating and story making, I can be oblivious to my surroundings and miss opportunities to bridge the gap between heaven and Earth. Only true presence can dissolve my unconsciousness. The only things I can truly know at a deep level are things I have experienced.
I know something shifted within me as a result of the kindness that was extended to me. I know this shift is something I want to honor and carry forward into the new year. I know my heart was softened the moment I received his gift. There is more to ponder. Yet, I know it is possible to experience "love as Lord of heaven andearth" shifting me toward wholeness.
You have probably heard the saying: we can't think our way into a new way of living; we can only live our way into a new way of thinking. My reflection on this extraordinary event challenges me to stay awake to opportunities to share love as I welcome a new way of being in our world.
-- Cathy Rhoads is a certified Catholic chaplain offering private spiritual guidance and counseling. She attends Christ the King parish in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed toeditor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.