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“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl Rast

An Important Question: Have You Become Yourself?

A note from Erin:

“The role of a fully realized human being,” Meade says, “is to arrive at the door of death having become oneself.”

I love this quote from Michael Meade. He continues in an interview that was featured in the Sun Magazine,

“To become nobody but yourself, to struggle against the tide of sameness and the false security of simply fitting in — that is a fight worth having. To become oneself by finding a way to contribute one’s god-given talents and natural genius to this troubled world; that is the job to keep applying for. The real work in this life is not simply to succeed and “become somebody”; the real issue is to become one’s intended self.”

There’s a wonderful story I’ve heard Michael Meade tell which is with me this morning. Here’s a short version he wrote awhile back for our awesome local Catalyst Magazine.

“It’s like the story of the old rabbi who lay on his deathbed as his final hour drew near. His name was Zushya, and he had lived a full life. He was widely known and greatly respected as a holy man and scholar. He had taught others for many years and was loved by his students for his honesty and wit. Now that his time had come, his students gathered to share in his final moments.

When a student asked how he felt, the old teacher answered with characteristic honesty. “I am afraid to face God,” he said, “I fear that I will be found wanting in the world to come.” The students were shocked; how could such a thing be possible? Their teacher was an exceptional spiritual leader who had taught them generously and guided them wisely. The students began to reassure the teacher: “Rabbi, you are a pure and righteous man. You have shown the leadership of Abraham, the courage of Jacob, the vision of Moses. What do you have to fear in facing God?”

Death is a great teacher, they used to say, and often a true teacher will use their own death as a final lesson on life. With his failing breath Zushya replied, “I am not afraid that God will ask me why I was not more like Abraham or Moses; I can answer honestly that I did not have the god-given abilities of Abraham or the talents of Moses. But, if God asks me, ‘Zushya, why were you not more like Zushya?’ For that I have no answer at all!” In so saying, Zushya passed into the world that waits beyond this one.”

How might I release my grip and be more fully my unique self today?

How could I live today, this week, this life, so that when death comes I feel at ease in going, knowing I have fully lived my own life, given the gifts that were mine to give, fully unfolded my uniqueness?

It takes me back to that potent point I first heard from Russell Delman.

“Human transformation requires the movement from fear to love as the basic operating principle.”

Loving (rather than fearing) how we’re made, loving (rather than fearing) our own unique weirdness, (with humility, of course) seems to me to be an important part of that.

I’ll take these inquiries with me as I hit the road tomorrow morning for a long drive. I’m off for a silent meditation retreat with Tsoknyi Rinpoche in Crestone, Colorado, for a week.

Wishing you a wonderful day, and many many blessings to you and your uniqueness,

Erin

p.s. I had a most wonderful time at my first Creative Play weekend workshop. I’m so grateful to the amazing group of women who joined me. Can’t wait to do it again!

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