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Life’s surprises — can they lead to greater wholeness and happiness?

So this is what happened. I came home from the coffee shop yesterday afternoon, turned into our little cul-de-sac, and I saw, parked squarely in front of our house, an ancient John Deere tractor, very nicely kept, with nice shining green and yellow paint, if I remember correctly - but 50 years old, my guess, if it was a day.

It disappeared soon afterwards as mysteriously as it arrived. Where did it come from? What was it doing there? I had no idea - still have no idea.

I need to set a little background here. Our cul-de-sac is a congenial, solid, middle-class kind of neighborhood, populated by respectable senior types like me and JoAnn. We own nice, respectable looking, but average, ordinary vehicles of the kind you would expect to find in this neck of the woods.

Mind you, I suppose it could have been even more unusual, even more dramatic. There might have been a tank parked beside our yard, I suppose, with a big gun pointing straight at our house and a cold eyed soldier standing with his head poking out of the top of the tank. But nonetheless -- it was enough of a surprise that I did a double take. When I went inside and told JoAnn, she did a double take too, didn't quite believe me at first.

I won't talk about the tractor anymore. I might overdo it. But it did make me think. For all our best attempts to get our lives nicely ordered, nicely arranged this way or that, just the right kind of place to live, just the right kind of friends, just the right kind of work, and so on -- well, the truth is life has a way of surprising us, doesn't it?.

And isn't that wonderful?

If I think about my own life, two conclusions come to mind. One is the simple realization that for the most part it has been difficult, challenging, totally unexpected and in some cases, unhappy, even tragic circumstances that have given my life its impetus -- have made possible a new experience of freedom, for example, have brought a new depth and color and magic.

My other thought is this. As painful, uncomfortable, even heartbreaking, as some of the "surprises" in my life have been -- and there will be more, I'm sure -- when I look back, I see evidence of a pattern, a design, at work in my life. I see evidence of a sublime creative process unfolding that nothing was going to defeat. I see evidence of a gracious hand on my life that has always been there -- and always will be if I play my part.

As erratic, as unexpected, as tragic, and as terrifying as some of the events in my life have been, back of the surface appearance this mighty creative process has been unfolding its will in me all the time. Quite untroubled. Quite unconcerned. Humming a little tune to itself perhaps. It has used, and continues to use each and every event, whether large or small, pleasing or displeasing, to the fulfillment of its own purposes, its own will.

And what is this will? What is this purpose?

It is that I might be made whole.

It is that I might come to know myself as I truly am. To know first-hand the divine essence at the core of my being -- to know I am not a human being having a spiritual experience, as Teilhard de Chardin so beautifully put it, but rather, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

It is to claim my true spiritual heritage, and know that I am not an isolated, worried little human being living an isolated existence separate from everybody and everything else - and neither are you.

I am one with all that is, with God, with Being, with this entire universe. I am one with the stars. I am one with the sea, and the fishes that swim in the sea. I am one with you. I am one with the animals. I am one with any other universes that may be lurking around somewhere.

Above all, I am one with the stillness that I feel permeating every part of my physical flesh in this moment as I finish work on this post and wait for JoAnn to come home from her quilters' group. Want to show it to her, see what she thinks. It was her idea, actually, to see what I could write about our experience with the tractor.

It was fun coming home and seeing something strange and unusual parked beside my house. Wonder what more surprises life has in store for you and me today? Please drop me a line about any surprises in your life, if you wish - I'd love to share them.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Loriann June 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm

I helped a tiny turtle cross the street the other day. You don’t see a stranded turtle in the middle of a busy road every day.


Christopher Foster June 18, 2009 at 9:07 am

Thanks for sharing this lovely experience with the turtle, Loriann. The older I get the more I realize the real joy and juice of life is in the “little things,” what I might have thought of before as little things. There are sweet things going on all the time around us when we have eyes to see. It’s good to be aware of them. To truly savor them. Like the little ritual this am when I took some peanuts out for the squirrels, and as if by magic, my little family of five squirrels appeared one by one from the dense leaves and branches of the linden tree. PS. I showed my wife JoAnn your comment. She said she thinks it’s a sign we’re happy (when we appreciate life’s ‘little surprises’).


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