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Chaplain Stephen Findley
What Have You Learned In Your Life?
by Justine Willis Toms

Recently in my women's circle each of us took a turn to answer the question, "What have you learned in your life?". We wanted it to be off the cuff, so to speak, taking two minutes to share it with one another.

Here is how I replied: All things pass very quickly, the good and the bad--although the bad seems as if it lasts forever when you are in it. Right now things for me are more pressure packed than they have ever been in my life and I'm finding that my spiritual practice is imperative if I want to stay present and out of worry and fear. I'm trying to move with the river of my life instead of against it. While I'm driving around I take the time to notice the hills, sky, light, birds, and people. At night I go out and look at the stars and moon. It keeps me connected with something larger than myself and really comforts me. It was the seventeenth-century philosopher Nicolas Malebranche, who said, "Attention is the natural prayer of the soul." Life is precious and paying attention to nature puts me in touch with that preciousness.

Besides paying attention, I've learned that loving others and being kind is fundamental to living a good life. When dealing with others it's essential to be slow to jump to judgment—easy to say but it's a hefty task, not easily mastered. Nevertheless, I try to catch myself when I'm reacting rather than responding, remembering to breathe and slow down.

I'm also aware how important it is not to isolate myself, and to make a concerted effort to stay in contact with friends and family. It's good for my health and well-being. Even though we all are going through what Jean Houston calls, "galloping entropy," we would do well to make time to be in touch with friends: be silly with them, enjoy a walk or movie, or indulge in a luscious phone conversation.

Smile and laugh as much as possible. There is a saying that I'm using a lot right now,
"Since everything is but an apparition, perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may as well burst out in laughter."
14th-century Tibetan Dzogchen master Long Chen Pa
What have you learned in your life?

Stephen Findley USA