When I rise up
let me rise up joyful
like a bird.
When I fall
let me fall without regret
like a leaf.
I first heard these words sung as a chant at a retreat at Lake Tahoe almost two decades ago. As I pondered this photograph, that memory surfaced. When I looked online, I discovered many variations of this chant/song, but this core quote is attributed to Wendell Berry. I am not sure that brilliant Kentucky farmer, environmental spokesperson, and writer is much of a chanting sort of man, but he is a poet. He would probably approve of our taking his words and breaking out into song.
Yesterday, I spoke with a resident of an assisted living community who is really struggling with the changes in her life. So much so, she wonders if God is punishing her. I believe at her core she is an optimistic and faithful person who can eventually accept this stage of her life. When she does that, she will be able to find meaning once more, and she did seem encouraged after our conversation. Most of us struggle with at least some of the ebb and flow that makes up our lives. We like the rising up joyful part (even when we forget to do so), but the falling down? Not so much. We struggle, and that weighs heavily upon us, like an unopened parachute. That burden can result in some pretty rough landings. I recently heard a suggestion that when we find ourselves down, we should not rush getting back up. Rather, we should look around and get our bearings. Take a compass reading. I believe there is wisdom in this idea. Even a short pause will help us rise, not in frantic fear, but with courage and resolve, and yes, maybe even with some joy.
As we journey today, let us remember to take a moment to look around and give thanks. Regardless of whether we are up, down, or completely sideways, God is with us. We are loved that much. No wonder we sing.