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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Find Meaning in the Moment

Find Meaning in the Moment

December is Spiritual Literacy Month, and while the literal explanation is embracing one another – regardless of our religions (or lack of them) – in a one world/united spiritual vision kind of way, actually determining what is sacred or meaningful in our everyday lives is the broader interpretation of the idea. But how do we do that? For those of us who lead stressful, frenetic lives (and who doesn’t?), finding the gifts in routine tasks and daily turmoil can be an extremely tall order.

Impossible work deadlines, overscheduled kids, aging parents, late busses on stormy days, mounting car repairs, unrelenting housework, and insurmountable bills can make it next to impossible to extract reverence and meaning from any of it. After all, where is the grace in a screaming child, a lost business account, working on weekends, a pending divorce, or another night of meatloaf?

Like the tenets in the popular book Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, finding positive meaning in the mundane can present challenges we’d rather not meet, or may not be sure just how to. But those who take it on say the world changes into a softer, easier, brighter place for them, with the added benefit of providing a common thread that connects them with others.

Coffee and Clarity
For Tulsa, Oklahoma mom Lindsey Scott, four children under the age of nine and a demanding full time job made it impossible to enjoy so much as a hot cup of coffee.

“Things like that used to frustrate me because my husband and I met in college at a coffee house and spent many leisurely hours there studying over giant, steaming lattes, which we loved,” she said, smiling at the memory. But according to Scott, frustration about her hectic life (and that “darned cold cup of coffee every day because I could never get to it”) changed when she saw a frail, homeless woman asking for change outside of a Starbucks, presumably to warm herself with a cup on a freezing February day.

“I realized that I was blessed to be able to have my coffee at all, whenever I could get to drink it,” she said. “I recognized that the ‘problems’ that often made it impossible to get to it included caring for my beautiful, active, healthy children, keeping a good job despite a bad economy which has forced people onto the street, and helping my husband–who fortunately is loving and strong–with all the yard work because we have a roof over our heads.”

The Sanctity of Scrubbing
Working the graveyard shift at a major Detroit hospital, custodian Clyde Marshall has done the same job for 30 years. He often works alone for hours on end, emptying waste containers, washing floors, cleaning toilets where people have been ill, scrubbing walls and stairwells, and buffing corridors–chores most would find tedious, objectionable, lonely, repetitive, and even backbreaking at times. For Marshall, it’s a gift.

“I look at this hospital as my temple,” he said, adding he considers it his responsibility to make it sparkle and shine for people who may be too sick or injured to go out and see the sun. “I challenge myself every time, knowing it’s for them, not for me. That’s my joy.”

Teaching Forbearance

In the South Bronx, instead of an early retirement to their dream location in Florida, at ages 60 and 58 teachers Alan and Sharon Armstrong adopted five siblings from the school where they used to teach, after a car accident left them without their parents.

“We heard about it two months after our retirement,” Sharon said, adding three of the children had passed through her and her husband’s classes. “They had no place to go but into the system, where they would be separated, and having raised two children of our own we couldn’t see that for them. We knew we could do better.”

Returning to teaching to support their new family, and with days now spent juggling mounds of laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, overseeing homework, chauffeuring the kids to after school sports and other activities–instead of basking in the sun with a cool drink– the Armstrong’s traded the peace and contentment for which they’d worked so hard all of their lives to provide for five other lives.

“We’d have found no joy in our retirement knowing we’d done nothing for these kids,” Alan said, adding they’ve never been happier or stronger together. “The nightly laugh sessions that come from a generally chaotic dinner time are something we all look forward to.”

“We knew it could be hard, and many days the challenges seem insurmountable, but we look at this situation as having been given the chance to be young again and raise a brand new family,” said Sharon.

While the process of attaining Spiritual Literacy may vary from individual to individual, the journey, result, and ultimate connection to others in their relative challenges brings the world that much closer–with a singular, joyful vision for all perhaps not that far off. According to founders and authors Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, “To read the sacred in everyday life requires that we develop new qualities of the mind and heart, qualities that open us to the presence of the spiritual within all aspects of existence. No moment, no thing is to be excluded.”

3 comments

1 Katherine Smith { 12.05.12 at 11:19 am }

How amazing is this article!! I am a single mother of two amazing kids, full time job, rent and bills to pay, dinner to make, etc… and I appreciate every single minute of it. If I lost any of that my life would be without purpose. It also is the best way to attain spiritual enlightenment. It’s easy to be in your (what I call) “Zen moment” when sitting on a misty mountaintop meditating without a care in the world. But try it when you’re surrounded by mounting bills (and the holiday rush – with all it entails), and everything else that was mentioned above. If you can achieve your “Zen Moment” then, you have truly achieved spiritual maturity, if not enlightenment! May all of your days be filled with Zen Moments and remember, having faith in yourself is JUST as important as having faith in your chosen God. Blessed Be.

2 MaziGrace { 12.05.12 at 9:32 am }

Thank you for sharing those heart-warming stories of love and compassion. Each of us has the ability to create a vision of the world we want to be in …. a place of love, happiness and prosperity. If we hold that in our hearts, it will be. “Today, as I elevate my abundance consciousness, I do my part to heal the world.” ~Deepak Chopra ~

3 Mari { 12.05.12 at 9:24 am }

These are beautiful stories and make you stop and thank God that He has provided such wonderful, caring people in this world. It is a good season to stop and be thankful for your life, no matter what your circumstances are. There is always someone in harder times than you are in. Be thankful for what you have and give thanks to God for each and every day, and each and every person that you meet in your day. You may be their blessing.

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