Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Begin each day with a grateful heart.~ Abraham Heschel
The above quote is one I have above my bathroom mirror. It has known many homes since I first put it up in 1976. Always, it lifts me.
I received this quote when I was dealing with severe aplastic anemia. I was young and living in Alaska when I was diagnosed. My prognosis was pretty dire. I was scared. Really scared. I had moved to Alaska to help develop a center addressing domestic violence in Anchorage. I joined a volunteer group of determined women who purposed to provide a safe home for battered women and their children. My denomination had sent me to assist. While in Anchorage, I also served a local United Methodist Church.
I was far away from home, in a land of summer sun and winter ice. What a life: no family, slowly making friends, pouring myself into my work, learning how-to cross-country ski and survive the moose who liked to munch on my house! Actually, it was a good life. I felt like a huge adventurer. The world was both bizarre and wondrous.
Then, I received my diagnosis. The world game crashing in around me. What to do? How to survive?
On a cold October morning having lived with my diagnosis for several weeks, I remember dragging myself out of my bed: fatigued, depressed, frightened. I had a therapist appointment to get to. I honestly did not want to go, but seeing my therapist was a rare place of sanity and safety as I tried to discern treatment, ability to work, and needs for family support. It was into this personal context that a friend sent me this quote from Abraham Heschel.
Herschel wrote about what he knew. What he had learned. Heschel was a Polish Rabbi who survived the Holocaust, but lost most of his family to Nazi concentration camps and street murders. He became well known as a leading Jewish theologian and philosopher. Like others who survived Nazi terrors, Heschel worked diligently to find a place deep inside to lift and empower his spirit.
So this Monday, I find myself remembering those dark days. Many of us know dark days. There is no comparison of suffering in our dark days. When our days are dark, we know suffering. In 1976, mine was from fallout of illness. Heschel’s was from fallout of violence. Suffering comes from a deep well of causes.
The point is there are times in our own darkness that become marker moments. Of course we feel despondent, scared, depressed. That is just normal. However, there do come days when we must find a way to continue forward. Or we stay stuck, feeling victimized, hopeless and powerless. We have to find that which gets us up out of bed and gives us a rudder for our living.
This morning, whatever your situation, listen deep inside for what provides a rudder for you. You will know what your rudder is, for it will lift your spirit, remind you of something inside you that still has the ability to seek and experience wonder.
With great humility, I invite you to try out Abraham Heschel’s words. They keep getting me out of bed 44 years later. Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Begin each day with a grateful heart.
Lucretia Hurley-Browning, MDiv, MS, is a guest writer whose recent background includes Chaplain of Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Director of Juniper Tree Counseling Center. She is a therapist and ordained United Methodist Minister. Currently she is a writer by day, a reader by night, and is passionate about living life meaningfully with a good dose of fun.