I was looking back through some old materials I had collected during college for my website at that time. I came across this full text of The Serenity Prayer, of which many are familiar with the first stanza.
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
—Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
The mandate here in the original version of the first stanza is stronger than the contemporary version. Rather than “Courage to change the things I can”, we instead should look to change anything that should be changed.
I also really like how the second stanza continues the thought but also sets the expectations for us even higher. We are called to live in the moment, accept hardship and surrender to God’s will as the means to find our happiness in life. These can certainly be challenging things at times, but we should all continue to strive the best we can!
NFL football is one of the things that I look forward to each year. It is the only sport I actually follow anymore. I was a little more interested in the New York Mets and the Chicago Bulls when I was younger, but it didn’t maintain after the star players on those teams weren’t playing anymore. Since childhood, baseball, basketball and hockey have never held my interest enough for me to want to follow teams or learn players.
And, to be honest, football lost my interest too for a while. I lived in Chicago during the 1985 Bears Superbowl season. While I never went to any games, I remember watching them on TV. I remember seeing Walter Payton run. I remember the dominance of that defense. I still remember many of the names of players from that team.
After moving to New York, I followed the Bears for a little bit and then the New York Giants for a bit. But then lost interest until the Bears’ 2006 season. The team was finally good again, on track to go to the playoffs, and I started watching late in the year. Since then, my connection to the team having been rekindled, I have been a more avid follower of the team. The games are not on TV as frequently here in New York, but I have watched as much as I’ve been able.
As an adult, I believe it’s easier to grind and survive through bad teams compared to as a child. The Bears have had many bad years again since 2006, but this year has been a rewarding one.
The team’s defense was very strong, regularly stopping opposing offenses and producing turnovers. The offense has been generally solid most of the year, producing enough points to overcome their opponents but without blowing teams out by large margins either. As a team that finished in last place in their division last year and improved to first place this year, under a first-year head coach and a second-year quarterback, there is a lot to look forward given the team’s success this year.
Most importantly, though, the team was fun to watch. And they were having fun too. The coach even insisted upon it. Their play on the field was strong and explosive. The coach was using all the players in creative ways, pulling out some trick plays. The team had creative touchdown celebration dances and would celebrate after wins in the locker room in “Club Dub”.
Their loss tonight in the playoffs to the Philadelphia Eagles was a heart-breaking one. The game was a tough, low-scoring defensive battle, as I thought it would be. The Eagles scored a touchdown with about a minute left in the game, but the Bears were able to push down the field and have one last chance. Unfortunately, the kicker missed the kick that would have won the game.
Am I disappointed that the Bears lost when they were certainly good enough and played well enough to be able to win? Yes, of course. But I am very happy with how the season turned out and am excited with what next year will bring.
If I can find or make a good highlight reel of the team’s season, I will post it here.
My company gave the day off last week for the National Day of Mourning for President George H. W. Bush. While my primary intention was to continue cleaning my basement, I did take a break to watch part of the funeral and listening to some of the speakers.
I thought President George W. Bush’s eulogy of his father was a wonderful and heartfelt tribute to his father. The office of the presidency, and sometimes those men themselves, can seem larger than life. But he described his father as a simple, kind and gentle man with a purpose of living Christian values in all his walks of life. And regardless of any one person’s religion, I hope that those values of providing compassionate care and concern for our fellow human beings are something that can resonate above other priorities, other themes, other distractions.
After the sermon, Christian artist Michael W. Smith played his song “Friends”. It was very familiar to me, as a sort of theme song during college, particular at the end of each year as my peers and I went home for the summer and senior friends graduated. The friendship of my classmates and living in community with them on campus is the one thing that I miss most about my time in college. There were always people available to find if someone didn’t want to be alone, but also the ability to be alone when that was preferred. We were able to take time to be present to each other when needed. Conversations were deep. Friendship was easy.
Life after college certainly presented a significantly different dynamic, which I have found particularly difficult over the years. Friends are harder to find. Friendships are harder to make and harder to maintain. Loneliness has been more frequent.
When I occasionally reflect on my own life and history, I can find myself doubting whether I have been successful in living such a value-filled life, even though I certainly aspire to do so. It’s easy to want to measure life based on accomplishments, and I think my feeling of doubt comes, in part, as a result of trying to live a relatively simple life. I don’t necessarily push myself as hard as other people do. I don’t try to accomplish a lot of things, or to accomplish things as fast as I can. Quite to the contrary, my life has always been about performing carefully, deliberately, and with the maximum quality. There have certainly been times where I’ve declined or resisted tasks because I was concerned about not being able to do the best job. And while accomplishments aren’t necessarily a bad part of living a good life, it is probably more worthwhile to consider the kind of accomplishments we have.
During the sermon, the priest recalled an old Christian adage: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” It emphasizes the importance of living out one’s values and philosophy in his or her actions, and not simply by words alone. Rather than “do as I say, not as I do”, this is “do as I do, even if I don’t also say it”. And I believe this is an important factor towards living the good life: beyond holding those values of care and concern for others, putting those into action. By working hard to maintaining closer friendships with those people that have slipped away over the passage of time. By contributing any small portion of kindness on a particular day to help make the life of another person better in some way: more happy, more peace-filled, less lonely, or less troubled.
And may we all encourage each other to find the good life.
For those who did not watch the funeral, below are clips of the eulogy, sermon and “Friends” musical reflection.
A while back, I started following an independent singer/songwriter on YouTube named Peter Hollens. He produces music that is largely, and often entirely vocally-based. Even the percussion is beatboxing. I strongly encourage you to check out his YouTube channel.
Recently, he announced he was going to producing music videos of several songs from the movie musical, “The Greatest Showman,” where following fans could participate and submit tracks to be included in the overall piece. He provided all the music and instructional videos needed for people to be appropriately prepared.
The first piece, “From Now On”, was released at the end of September. The second piece, “The Greatest Show” was released last week. Please feel free to watch, enjoy, and see if you can find me!
Hello and welcome to my new blog, The Inner Voice. After having the same 3 pages on my website for many years, it was definitely due for an update! Plus, as I discuss more in my Why I Blog page, this will give me more of an opportunity to write that I have had.
I have no particular plans regarding how often I will post. At this point, I’m planning to let my mood, spirit and schedule guide me. While I presently suspect that Computers, Music and Spirituality will be three of the main topics I will write about, I do not plan to limit only to those areas. I will use other tags and categories to help organize my content here.
I would like to be able to connect with as many readers as possible, so please feel free to comment on my posts, suggest additional topics for me or simply send me a message.