Writing a meditation for this morning has been a challenge. Our readings praise self-knowledge and acceptance. I’m told that I need to be friends with myself, savoring the woman I am becoming. Because that is what I am always and ever doing…I am becoming the woman I would be. I’m not there yet. I never will arrive because I shall be growing into myself for all of my days.
I was born an eight-pound package of potential. In seventeen years of schooling teachers set intellectual standards for me, and at Sunday school my catechism listed spiritual goals that were far beyond a grown woman’s reach let alone a little girl’s. My family layered on yet another set of expectations to be accepted and strived for. By the age of thirteen I had accepted layer upon layer of goals, standards by which to judge myself. In adulthood there were yet more should’s and ought to’s. Is it any wonder that the thought of telling my story took on a note of the confessional?
I’m here to tell you that a person’s real story is not a list of accomplishments, nor is it a list of shortcomings. How challenging it is to even conceive of my own story aside from those lists of deeds and misdeeds! I am more than what I have done or said. I am not the words that I love to put on paper. However, I am the love, the mischief behind them.
I am not the womb who bore my sons, nor the feet that ran alongside their first two wheelers as they learned to ride. I am the joy that celebrated their successes. I am the furiously grief stricken mother who cried all the way home after my son told me, “You can leave now Mom, I can set up my dorm room alone”. I went to our home tearfully proud that he didn’t need me and, by the way, how dare he not need me?! My story is one of painful joys.
It’s one compassion in telling bad news to a customer in a way that makes the news manageable. It’s about the quiet pleasure of seeing a garden grow or of shared horror with a Palestinian mother whose child set off a bomb that killed an Israeli child. The grief in the hearts of both mothers is a part of me.
And so it goes. Our human stories are the essence of our shared existence here on planet Earth. When it’s all over what will have mattered?
I do believe that these things will last. The kindness I did 20 years ago is still alive, having been paid forward. Yes, and my cruelties have also gone ahead. Thus my true legacy is not my list of achievements nor is it in what I have built. No, the only story that matters, the very essence of me that I bequeath to my fellow humans is the thread I have spun through my life and shared within the fabric of my fellow humans. That is my legacy. May I spin mindfully. Namaste