The single challenge of life is change. We don’t like it, yet we know it is the only constant.
Every day we get up and . . . things have changed. Nothing is where we left it last night. Not the kids, not the dog, not the roses in the garden. Everything we had just so has shifted. Sometimes slightly, sometimes violently.
I read once about “continuity” in film making. It is the responsibility of the script supervisor on the set to see that continuity is maintained between takes. That is, the actors must be wearing the same clothes, wearing the same wristwatch, the same earrings. The wave of hair must be perfectly the same. The cigarette—or the candles—half-burnt in the last take must be exactly so in this one.
Many people spend a lot of time working like that to maintain the illusion of continuity.
We want to walk on stage each day and act as if nothing has changed. Even when we have been rocked by life-altering events, we feel a need to get our lives quickly back to some former state. This is not what we ordered. But, as Margaret Mitchell wrote in Gone With the Wind, “Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
That’s because the world is perpetually in flux. Spirituality has always helped people to understand the whirl of change—not to fight it, but to let it carry you along, trusting that God knows the end from the beginning, and every point along the way. Yet most religion is established precisely to assure people that everything they knew and loved yesterday—or fifty years ago—has not changed.
It takes a lot of work to keep that illusion going. Authentic faith, on the on the other hand, always leads us to a place of letting go. It doesn’t need to enforce “continuity.” It is at peace with all the changes and chances of this life because it is confident of the One who attends us at every moment.
John Muir, the American naturalist and explorer of the late 19th century, said it so beautifully. “Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.”
Caroline Oakes says
What a beautiful John Muir quote, along with the lovely connections throughout. Thank you, David.
I get on my knees every morning in the shower and say the Serenity Prayer. Even now having the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change” is hard for me – oh sweet elusive serenity! But I am slowly mustering up the “courage to change the things I can” and while change is often inconvenient, man can it be satisfying!
I call it my Courage Prayer.
“Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect.” That is perfect. Good start to my day, thank you David.
In my youth, my version was: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I cannot accept; and wisdom to know the difference.
I still like this version, but understand the subtle difference….
Margaret Anderson says
WOW!Another great page for your “book”.”God let us rest in your Changelessness as we sleep tonight”. I have to print the above, replies and all,and add it to my traveling prayers. Blessings, Mugsie
Love that prayer, Mugsie. Thank you.