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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Almost exactly a year ago, I was involved in a car crash. By some miracle, no one was hurt but it was a near run thing. Looking at how badly damaged both cars were, certainly makes me think that a greater power was on hand that day. It also made me consider all the unspoken words that need to find their way out into the world, the actions my heart longs to take but my human frailty holds me back from. Courage comes to us in strange ways, mine came on a Tuesday morning in the form of a little red car bearing down on me, the shocked face of the driver, as we both realised he was going to hit me, and the prayer I sent up in that moment: "Give me one more day".
Someone was listening, so here I am and this is what I wrote a few days later.

One More Day

I am the richest person in the world because I awoke this morning to one more day of this precious gift of life. All around the world, life is stolen from so many through accidents, illness, crime and war. This one more moment is all we ever have and oh what a wonderful gift that is.

The first words on my lips were "I am so grateful, grateful, grateful" and they echoed through my mind for hours afterwards, illuminating every word, every action, every point of decision.

I woke beside my beloved husband of 17 years. I allowed the feeling of love to flow through me, remembering how it was before we met, the void of loneliness he filled with peaceful joy, utterly and completely transforming my world.

I looked in on our 13 year old son sleeping through his change of season cold, and rejoiced because he is healing surrounded by a love that so many never experience. He is a glorious gift of the Light, brought into this world through us, his parents, and the world is better for his presence. Nothing we have done or will do can ever be as magnificent as the creation of this child. You will see a small glimmer of the beauty of his spirit when you read one of his poems later.

I step into our kitchen and look at the two large fridge freezers, the many cupboards, and I know that behind their doors is more than enough to feed us well for weeks. We have never known hunger.

I am grateful to the winds of chance that brought my father here to the safety of Scotland, alive and whole in mind and body. He survived the invasion of Poland, the cattle truck hell of the journey to Siberia, the frozen starving slave labour winters, the long trek across Russian to Persia, six months in hospital with malaria, typhoid, cholera and malnutrition, the death of his mother and father, the terror of the German submarines as he served on convoy escort in the most dangerous wartime seas. So many innocents died and my father made it through. Without that epic journey through pain, loss and fear, I would not be here today.

I am so grateful that the German bombs spared my schoolgirlmother during the the mass bombing of the Clydeside. The family two doors up from them were all lost when their home became a smoldering hole in the ground.

I can hardly speak when I consider how grateful I am for having both mother and father with me today, at the ages of77 and 83 respectively. I am so grateful for the role model of a good relationship that they gave me through all the triumphs and challenges of their 56 years together. In my work as a therapist, so many of my clients had childhoods of unspeakable misery; mine was one of love and deep security. It took me too long to realise just how fortunate I am.

I have the use of all my limbs and my mind is intact and healthy. One of the lessons I have taken from my accident is the need for diligent self-care. It is so foolish to throw a life away.

I have people like all of you in my life. You have no idea how much I treasure your responses to my work, knowing that from time to time, I strike a chord and something shifts. So thank you for the gift you give me in reading what I write.

I see and appreciate beauty because it is a projection of the beauty in me and I can truly understand and accept that now, when for many years I could not. Please look into the mirror of your soul and see the incandescent beauty that is there. See it and begin to live it.

It is the turning point of the year. The trees have offered their many coloured hues as a sacrifice to the coming of the Spring, enriching the earth and my soul in the cycle of death and rebirth.

Winter is here with its dramatic dark skies; the first snows have fallen on Sugarloaf, Maine, where my family love to fly down the mountains and we are filled with with delicious anticipation.

I am grateful for the gift of language. We share our hearts, our minds and souls through our words. Make your words worthy of this gift today.

There is peace in my soul, love in my heart and fire in my mind.

I am the richest person in the whole world because life is indeed a precious gift and I see that so clearly, my heart overflows with the love it brings.


Some Inspiration for Today

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. --John Fitzgerald Kennedy

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" ~William A. Ward

Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live. ~Jackie Windspear

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

My 13 year old son wrote this two summers ago, when were on holiday in France. We were discussing war and the impact it has on those who wage it and those who are innocently caught up in it. It made me even more proud of him, if that is possible!

The Horrors of War

Death stalks the broken walls and blasted fields,
I draw my sword, my axe, I wield.
Swords swing and bows sing,
Young knights fall in a burning hell.
Castles crumble as trebuchets rumble
Yet Kings still lead us to the horrors of war.

Hope left the young man's eyes.
He leaps from his trench and there he dies.
Yet men still fight for what they think is right
But I am darkly, deeply steeped
In the horrors of war.

Is there no better way?

Jan Michael Doherty
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