All of us, with different dreams, different goals and different perspectives, wake up each morning with a purpose or new goal or idea and continue on our different journey's of life. Lots of us after the last few months of what has been the hardest lockdown of the past year have probably if you're like me recharged the batteries a bit and have set new goals and challenges and dreams for ourselves.
All of us are unique and distinctive from one another, yet there are similar things which bring us all together irrespective of all the differences and contrasts we have. If personalities or being make us different and unique, emotions make us alike. If beliefs, religion and none divide us, humanity brings us together. If choices and goals make us different, love makes us alike.
If Countries, Brexits, Viruses, Lockdowns and Boundaries divide us, the World brings us together. The focus of everything that we seek is the same. The road we journey on may be different but our destinations are the same. We all strive for love, care and mercy alike, we are all afraid of being left out, hurt or turned away, we all want a life worth living, we all want unconditional love, we all want genuine trusting, caring, loving friendships and relationships.
We all want real love, care and mercy. The recipe for love, care and mercy in fact, is simply there in our hearts, waiting to be brought out in each one of us through our eyes, face and actions, to be shared, to be given, to be felt and to be expressed, without greed, without selfishness, without judgement, without jealousy, without hate and without negativity. All we need is just a little love, all we need is just a little care, all we need is a little mercy, all we need is just a little encouragement, all we need is just a little kindness, all we need is just a little respect, all we need is just a little faith, and then the world is a place of love, care and mercy!
Today, as we look around the world and see how much unnecessary suffering and death there is, the many ways in which human beings are being destroyed, perhaps we could pause and take stock of our own lives. We may protest that we do not perpetrate the kind of horrors we have seen in many parts of our world or indeed at times in our country, but every time we fail to accord others their dignity, every time we close our hearts to others’ needs, everytime we disrespect others, everytime we keep quiet to the evil racism, inequality and injustice happening around us, everytime we do not show love, care and mercy, we chip away at something important. That the most beautiful of all the beauties God created, is the human person. May we never forget that, although it can be that sometimes we do lose sight of what’s really important in life. We get wrapped up in our work and let everything else suffer.
As we allow our work to take over our life, it might be our workout routine at the sports grounds that gets forgotten or a health hobby that fades away. And if you can handle the extra 10lbs or you weren’t all too passionate about the hobby, well, life goes on. But more often than not, when we get really busy at work and we let it take over our lives, it’s the people we care about most who pay the price. There’s nothing wrong with work. It can be incredibly rewarding. Often, it allows us to use our talents to support a greater good. And it’s certainly financially necessary for most of us. But if we lose our perspective and get too wrapped up in our work, it’s our relationships that suffer. The people we care about most are the ones who are forgotten when we can’t let go of our work. Friends, family, loved ones—the relationships in our lives are what give us true purpose, joy, and satisfaction. Sure, work can provide some of that as well, but it’s the people we care about who really make life worth living. It’s sad that we lose sight of the importance of our relationships and what is important in a good sense to us in life, and it’s something we all need to guard against vigilantly. These last few months of Lockdown has hit home that insight into life to me.
A Face of Love
There is a wonderful, old story about the great Leonardo Da Vinci that I love. When Leonardo was painting the Last Supper it took him several years to complete it. He had decided to use live models for Christ and each of the twelve Apostles. He chose the model for Jesus first when he found a man whose face radiated both beauty and unconditional love. As the years went on Leonardo completed each of the Apostles except for Judas Iscariot.
Finally, he found a man whose face seemed full of avarice, viciousness, deceit, and hypocrisy. After he finished painting the man as Judas, the man asked if Leonardo knew who he was. When Leonardo said no, the man replied, “I am the same man you painted years ago as the figure of Christ.” This story reveals a spiritual truth and that is, no matter how old or young we are, the appearance of our faces can often show the condition of our souls. I have seen rugged, scarred, weather beaten faces that when they smiled still showed the beauty of angels and eyes full of love. I have also seen young, wrinkle free faces with eyes as cold as ice and bitter smiles full of both fear and hate. The good news, however, is that it is never too late to change your face, your heart, and your life. It is never too late to fill your soul with love and care and mercy and let it shine through your eyes and actions. I only hope that my own face no matter how old or wrinkled it gets and it is getting older as I write this thought for the week, is always a face of love. I hope each and every face is a face of kindness, goodness, gentleness, helpfulness, hopefulness, and joyfulness. I hope it is a reflection of God’s love for us all. May your own life always sparkle with goodness and God. May your eyes always shine with the light of joy. And may everyone who looks at you always see a face full of love.
A prayer about what someone believed life to be for them that I found in my Nana Scully's prayerbook goes as follows, "I believe through my experiences of living on my journey of life so far, that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. I believe that no matter how much you care, some people just don't care back. I believe that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it. I believe that it's not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts. I believe that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better know something. I believe that it's not what happens to people that's important. It's what they do about it.
I believe that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life. I believe that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. I believe that either you control your attitude or it controls you. I believe that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place. I believe that learning to forgive takes practice. I believe that money is a lousy way of keeping score. I believe that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel. I believe that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love. I believe that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many years you've lived. I believe that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed you. I believe that no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that. I believe that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself. I believe that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief. I believe that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other and just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do. I believe that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions. I believe that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever. I believe that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process. I believe that there are many ways of falling and staying in love. I believe that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.
I believe that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help. I believe most of all that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains. I believe that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being. I believe that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon. I believe the appearances you give from your face return to you in the way people treat you from what they have seen in your face. Give out love, kindness, truth, care and mercy."
Thought for the week
As your thought for the week as we hope and pray for brighter days to come, don’t lose sight of what’s important. Don’t lose hope when life gets tough. Don’t give up on your dreams for the future. Don’t sell yourself short in life. Don’t forget how to hug, to laugh, to smile. Don’t be too proud to cry. Don’t be hateful or hurtful. Don’t forget to say, “thank you”, "I am sorry" and “I love you” each and every day. Don’t expect there will always be a tomorrow. Don’t forget that one small kindness pays you back two fold. Everybody has something to offer. Indeed, most of us have many things to offer and, in a lot of cases, special expertise is not required. A face of love cures all ills.
We are all capable of giving that which people need most of all: Love. Love translates into time, service and the sharing of oneself. Don't give up. Share the love, share your love. Be a face of love. And remember that there is no better thing that you can do in life than to love someone or care for someone or be there for someone. Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. I pray that each of you that have read this thought for the week today and on other occasions, may be blessed always and in all ways. This week when you look at your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, your colleagues see them with the eyes of love. Remember that we are all just doing the very best we can at any given time, warts and all, but beneath it all, the current which runs within all of us is love. That is the greatest gift we can receive and it is a gift we can re-gift! We are equipped with a never ending supply of love. When we look at those we care about with the look of love, we are dismissing that they left their towel lying on the floor (my wife forgives me regularly for this), we are ignoring that they left the fridge door open, we are looking at them with the eyes of love, we are remembering and connecting to the blessing we feel that they are in our lives. The gratitude that they are sharing this journey with us right now! That they are here now! This is not something to take for granted, and yet we do so every single day, again and again. So, let's make our country a better place, one look at a time this week and well into the future. Take a moment to look at and appreciate the ones we love, the ones who are walking beside us, who are working beside us, who are living beside us and who are sharing this journey with us during these difficult economic, faithless and hard times of a global pandemic. We all need to be seen with the eyes of love, to be reminded of our greatness and to be empowered by it. It is powerful soul food. Do one more thing for me, when you look in the mirror this week, look at yourself with the eyes of love. Don't look at the wrinkles, or slight imperfections, look, really look into your eyes, and love yourself. You are here now for a reason, and I for one am profoundly grateful that you are here, and that you are aware enough that you are willing to take the next opportunity that comes your way. If we can only remember to do this once this week, we are improving the world around us.
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