Posts Tagged ‘blog jack bielan. Jewish music’

Just For Today: Service

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

One of my favorite meditations, titled “Just For Today”, suggests that each day of my life I should find a way to do someone a good turn. It warns however, that if anyone finds out about the effort, it won’t count.

I’ve decided that this one time I’m gonna violate the code. I’m doing it because I’m convinced that I’ll fail the assignment if I don’t share the lesson.

My friend Suzanne is a woman who I’d guess is in her mid-thirties. She’s a pretty blonde, and makes an impact when she walks in a room. She’s bright, articulate and inspires everyone she meets.

She’s also blind.

Recently Suzanne called and told me of a dilemma. Like me, she’s a participant in the Recovery community. Her problem at hand was a lack of brail or audio versions of many of the readings in our particular program. As is her way, she wanted to do something about it, and wondered if I’d be willing to record myself reading some of the materials.

I’ve long harbored an intention of doing some reading for sight-impaired people, but never got around to it. So when she made the request, I jumped at it.

A week later, eleven CD’s – ten hours of recorded literature now exist. Suzanne intends to use them to reach out to people in the sight-impaired community who suffer from similar self-destructive compulsions. Others will be helped, and I got a chance to be a part of it.

I tell you this because, for about a year, I’ve been in recovery doldrums. I’ve found myself overcome by my Obsession of Choice, not finding strength to get back on my particular wagon. I’ve had spurts of clarity, but more often than not the insidious disease has been wrapping itself around me and constricting my life. I’ve prayed repeatedly for willingness to take the actions I need to take, but relief has been long in coming.

Apparently God decided I was finally ready.

The process of recording involved total immersion in the materials. For seven days and nights I was reading all the questions, reciting all the prayers and absorbing all the wisdom the program has to offer. Despite having been a participant for over sixteen years, I read things I’ve never read before, and learned things I’ve never known.

For my willingness, my God drilled into my head a thousand reminders of how much He loves me, and that I need never be alone with my addiction again. He told me in the most clear-cut Holy Voice – over and over – that there indeed is a solution to my troubles.

I feel so much better. For today, the compulsion has been lifted, and I’m convinced that every day I show up for others, I stand a far better chance of showing up for myself.

It’s really true: service absolutely is its own reward.

“Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.”

Thank you, Suzanne.

Thank you, God.

Persistence With A “P”

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

“Persistence”.

Three syllables linked together: so easy to say, yet so hard to own.

I’ve been wondering lately about persistence. What is it in a human being which says, “I know it’d be easier to give up, and I keep thinking I should… but I just can’t – I won’t.”

An on hand dictionary says that to persist is “to continue unwavering or resolute or firmly in some purpose or course of action.”

Unwavering… resolute… purpose…. I like those words. I like the idea of their being part of what defines us.

Yes, “unwavering” has connotations of being stubborn, but in this context it implies focus and refusal to be distracted. Sounds good to me: I admire people who have the wherewithal to abstain from three hundred cable channels of inanity and compulsive crossbreeding with their PDA of choice.

“Resolute” sounds like Thomas Jefferson – the good parts. Words like “bold” and “courageous and “intrepid” come to mind. Jeez, wouldn’t you just love for someone to call you “intrepid”?

“The intrepid composer persevered boldly and courageously through the Broadway establishment and found a producer for his new Musical.” ¬†Yeah baby, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

And last but not least: “purpose”. What’s a life without dreams and goals and destinations? Isn’t your day so much more delicious when you’re on a mission?

And we don’t always have to be persistent on a grand scale, do we? A lawmaker in pursuit of passing an equal rights amendment is really no more relentless than a student studying day and night for her S.A.T., or a teacher who refuses to give up on a difficult child.

Personally, I’m finding persistence to be an elusive suitor. In the last week I’ve experienced moments when heady terms like “brilliant” and “masterpiece” were being heaved at me – yet seconds later when I was still feeling like another nose pressed against the glass.

But though I’ve often felt like saying I’ve had enough, after a few hours of licking my wounds I’ve found myself continuing to try, fueled by recognition that I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t.

And isn’t that the essence of it for all of us? As usual, it’s about choices. We choose to live either with sorrowful regrets or in the satisfaction of knowing that there were chapters in our personal stories when, despite the odds, we were resolute and focused and determined.

But here’s the kicker: we don’t have to do it alone. We don’t have to take the world on our shoulders in the pursuit of our goals. It’s not our job – it’s God’s.

Oh yeah… “God”. I almost forgot.

Now I remember: we’ve got a God who loves us. We’ve got a God for whom our little goals are less than a snap of His holy fingers. We’ve got a God who has a plan for us – and we’ve got a God with whom all things are possible.

Come to think of it, He’s the One who gave us the gift of persistence.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better now. I’ve got a renewed sense of unwavering, resolute purpose. Of course I have to continue being persistent, because my God’s walking alongside me – and He’s got my back.

I think I’m actually feeling a little bit intrepid.

How about you?