Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Meaning of Life

I have found the meaning of life.  It was revealed to me when I went out for my morning walk today.  It was not a Buddha-like experience wherein I was suddenly enlightened.  It was more like a slight a-ha just short of an epiphany.  I began to sing an old song that was once on the radio, the kind that gets stuck in your head and it is hard to get out, and all of a sudden I thought, "Yes, this is the meaning of life."  So, now that I have found it, I want to pass it along to you so you also can know the meaning of life or the meaning of life as it was revealed to me and as I interpreted it.  Those could be two different things so watch out. 

The song that was in my head was "Sweet Dreams' that was sung by Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics.  I only know the chorus so only that part spoke to me since I dont know the rest of the song.  It may negate the meaning of life as revealed to me so do not read or sing the rest of the song.  But, the part that spoke to me today is "Sweet dreams are made of these, you and I may disagree, travel the world and the seven seas, everybody's looking for something."  There is more, but let's consider this much to begin with.  I do not want to overpower you with too much meaing to begin with.

Everybody IS looking for something.  That is the main meaning of life.  Everybody is looking, searching, yearning, longing to find purpose (meaning) in life and when they realize that they are looking, they may actually begin to find something that they are looking for.  Everyone wants to feel needed, useful, to know that they serve a purpose in this world and when that need is fulfilled then they feel a level of satisfaction with themselves.  People who have no purpose in living or feel that way often live lives of uselessness or dissatisfaction.  They bounce from place to place or from person to person and may even decide that life is not worth living at all and end their pain.  Having a reason to live gives a person a reason for existence and a reason to get up in the morning.

You may not agree with me (the song says you may not...more meaning) because we all have different ways of interpreting life.  What gives meaning and purpose to me may not give it to you.  I really do not like our summers in Texas.  If I had my way, I would leave Texas about May 15 and not return until about October 15 (I think we call these people "snowbirds" or maybe "sweatbirds" if you live in Texas and go north in the summer).  If I ever do get to fulfill this plan, though, I cannot be a sweatbird that just sits around some apartment or campground where I may land in the cool north but I would have to have something to do while I am there.  I cannot simply waste time.  I have to be busy about the business of living and enjoying life.  Now, I may be actively exploring the land where I am escaping to (picture Colorado or Montana or even Vermont...ahhhhh) but I would not be sitting still rocking in my rocking chair and watching life pass me by.  Even if my wish could come true to escape Texas and the blistering, hot, humid days of summer here, I would have to find meaning in life in that other cooler locale or it would not be satisfying to me. 

So, Annie Lennox and the gang was right about that, I think.  Everybody IS looking for something and many search the world over (the seven seas) looking for it.  Many people think they have found meaning in a person.  The person may seem like someone with whom they can share their life and the meaning they want in it but soon they discover that their vision of life does not match the vision of life they hold.  This is where the rest of the song comes in.  "Some of them want to use you, some of them want to be used by you, some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused."  Believe it or not, there are people of both kinds in this world.  Some who will take advantage of others, and some who want to be taken advantage of.  Many people do not realize this about themselves, on both counts.  Some people cannot envision that they hurt others but they do.  Some people do not know it about themselves but they psychologically welcome abuse and mistreatment because they allow others to mistreat them. 

Even in the church, we find people of both kinds.  Yes, there are church leaders who will mistreat others.  We know that from reading the stories in the news about religious persons who have sexually or physically or mentally abused their parishioners.  There are the innocent ones who could not know that these that they trusted would hurt them until it has happened.  There are also people in power in churches who use their power to try to harm colleagues and co-workers but thankfully there are safeguards in place to protect them if they will use those measures.  Too many times, people are afraid to blow the whistle, though, for fear that they will lose their jobs.  The Powers That Be in religious circles often hold the power that dictates whether a person will continue to minister or work in the church so one has to have incredible inner strength in order to call the abuser upon the carpet and bring about justice. 

Some people want to be used and abused and they do not realize that is their psychological disposition.  They may resent the abuser and want to escape but they cannot find the inner resources to be able to make a better decision for their lives.  That is where the church has to be the savior for them to pray for them and counsel with them and encourage them to find the inner strength to act on their on behalf for the good they seek.  As long as they decide to stay where they are and make no change, then life will remain as it is for them.  Sometimes doing nothing is much easier than acting for change and having courage for one's own life. 

So, who knew that suddenly, while walking along in our quiet rural Texas town, I would have life's very meaning dropped upon me?  It would seem that this special visitation would speak to me personally so as to improve my own life and perhaps it will, but maybe this lesson to me also is meant for someone else who needs encouragement in life, for someone who is in a hard place in life and needs to know that there is a better place to live, to grow, to find meaning in life.  Perhaps the meaning of life is revealed to us in our everyday living as we find places of service to our church and to the world around us.  Perhaps it is revealed in the quiet moments of life, in the breaking of the bread around the table with loved ones, in the times when we allow those songs to get stuck in our heads or when we pause to give thanks for what is important to us in life. 

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