Yesterday was a gorgeous day. The sun came out and we had blue sky over Wawota with temperatures up in the 20s. I was inspired by the beauty of it all, so I put on some shorts and a T-shirt, wiped the dust off my bike, and went for a cycle round the town and into the surrounding countryside. There's something about getting out into the warmth that fills your heart with gladness. Cycling makes it even better, with the wind in your hair (or baldy head in my case) and the instant access to the sights, sounds and smells of nature.
As I cycled along a gravel road to the east of town, I found myself totally at peace with life and at peace with nature. There was a sense of not merely being in the countryside, but actually being part of it, being one with it in this incredible manifestation of life and creation. It was a great feeling, one I've had before and enjoy every time it re-surfaces. Most of it, it was an emotional and spiritual celebration of the gift of life.
Life, it's a simple little word, almost too simple for the immense gift that it refers to. Life is beautiful, life is wondrous, a series of all-too-short days that open up opportunity and experience to us. Do you celebrate it? Think about it for a moment, what is your attitude towards the experience of being alive?
If you spend your days working at something you hate, then spend your evenings glued to the TV, and allow your conversations to be full of complaints and negativity, you are not really enjoying life, are you? And yet the possibility to turn even the "worst day" into a level of enjoyment is always there, just by taking a moment to focus on the reality that you are here, you are breathing, and life is yours to experience and be thankful for.
How long has it been since you stooped to smell a flower? When did you last sit by a lake and listen to the gentle lapping of the water? How often do you pause from the stresses and stains of your timetable, to just ponder the incredible gift of your existence, your identity, your very nature?
Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I learned a lesson I have never forgotten. My Mum was disabled, confined to a wheelchair because of a brain haemorrhage when she was only 39. One day I was working on something in my room when I heard her ringing her wee bell for attention. Being a typically impatient teen, I went through and somewhat abruptly asked "What Mum?" She looked up at me and said this. "I'm just thinking how incredibly blessed I am to be able to hear the birds singing outside in the garden."
Her words floored me. They deflated every ounce of youthful haughtiness I felt. If anyone could have complained it was she, paralysed down the left side, stuck in a wheelchair, unable to talk clearly. Yet she approached life with passion for living, she saw each day for the blessing it was, understood that life itself is a wondrous gift to be experienced and cherished and to be grateful for.
My Mum passed away in August 2007; she was nearly 79 years old and had been in that chair for close to 40 years. In all that time I rarely heard her complain. She had a smile brighter than the midday sun, and a warm attitude that touched everyone who came in contact with her. She loved God, loved life, and loved to share her joy with everyone.
So will you do the same this week? Will you take hold of the gift of life and seize the day? Will you fall in love with living all over again? Will you seek and find things to be thankful for? Will you give yourself the precious gift of loving this precious gift of life, and then living it with honourable passion and gratitude?
These are choices that we all can make, and if we make them, life will become the magnificent journey it is meant to be.