Oh, my! Oh my, my, my!
Several weeks back a friend sent me one of those contemplative stories that go around social media because she thought I’d like it, and she was right. The gist of it was that our possessions are temporarily ours, not permanently. (Thanks, Deb, for the inspiration.)
I immediately thought of Kahlil Gibran’s “On Children,” which set off fireworks in my head when I first read it in my young teens. “They [that is, your children] are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself,” he wrote. “Though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” Life’s longing for itself. Wow. My mind was blown (which was a current expression of the time…and still works for me)!
Life’s longing for itself. Whoa!
As I cut back my yew and my raspberry canes today, I thought of the decades my late husband toiled in the yard doing this, the sort of work he loved. It brought him such pleasure and satisfaction to care for his lawn, his shrubs and his plants – indoors as well as outdoors. I like it too, although I never rose to his level of detailed attention and hours of commitment. As I cut the yew, I mused about how he took care of his plants. I thought beyond that to how, together, we took care of our house, our affairs and our family.
Of course, it’s not his yew now. It’s mine. Just like the dang fish tank! Because he’s gone. But, of course, the yew is not mine either. It never was his, and it never will be mine. The yew growing out there is life’s longing for itself. We are just care-givers. Temporary help, taking pride in a job well done, but only here for our short time. The yew, the Rose of Sharon, the raspberries, the oaks, the house, even the dang fish tank – all of it will go on long after I’m gone.
My address will someday be someone else’s. My children will be on their own without me once I’m gone, just as I was when my last parent died. My clothes, my books, my artwork, my furniture, dare I say it again? the dang fish tank…all given away and will become someone else’s.
This is not sad news. This is not bad news. Maybe you think, “Yeah, but it’s not happy news, either.” Listen: take care of your stuff! Take care of the world. Take care of each other, too! Look, if it’s any news at all, let it be an awakening.
You are here! Right now!! Life’s longing for itself. That is you. And of all the things you have, the talents, the gifts, the skills, none is greater than this: you can give and you can love. As I’ve said before, wherever you go, leave love behind. Love is generative. It never ends. And if it transfers from you to someone you love to someone they love, it is amplified and sustained and ongoing; never diminished, never lost.
Remember! You were a child. You are life’s longing for itself. All you have, all you “own,” all you consider “yours” is just stuff. Forget about my this or my that. It all will pass on. You will pass. I will pass. Think differently. Think about this:
You are life’s longing for itself and that, along with love, never passes.