Sunday, May 15, 2011

Seeking Acceptance

"Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring. "
-  William Alexander

Surrey Pines,  Benjamin William Leader
Oil on canvas, 1905, private collection

Listening to friends and family recently has added an interesting and beautiful new thread running through my tapestry of life lately. Sometimes the shining color of hope for a new beginning, and sometimes the more softly burnished glow of remembering better times, the thread, nevertheless, glows with significance.

It seems to be all about acceptance lately.

How do we learn acceptance? Maybe I should back up and ask it this we learn acceptance? Is it a skill that we can develop, or is it a gift from Heaven bestowed upon us?

I'm not being rhetorical here. What do you think? 

I think I was born with the ability to accept my circumstances. From my earliest memories, I could accept almost everything that came my way; gifts, rules, boundaries, limitations, or consequences, without question, and was certainly one of the most compliant children ever born (except for that infamous little "orange peel incident" which we'll just leave alone for now). I'd say my parents had to have felt mighty lucky parenting me, except that My Twin had to have been one of the most rebellious children ever born, so I guess we sort of cancelled each other out in the Lucky Parents category.

I've experienced many things in my life that I have dearly wished could be different, but I've spent precious little energy railing against them or the world or the heavens or the people around me. I just never saw the point to that. did it happen?  Was I the recipient of this gift via DNA, or God's hand, or mere luck, or did I , through witnessing My Twin's frustration upon lashing out at every injustice, learn the attitude of acceptance?

[Is there an inherent value in possessing an attitude of acceptance? My Twin became a physician, fighting illness, injury, and disease with every fiber of her being. She is respected and loved by her patients and colleagues alike, and I can see that her resistance to accepting the status quo may have had a good deal to do with that.]

The truth of it is that we all must at times accept things we don't like. The question becomes, then, can we accept them with grace, if not appreciation? What is to be gained by our circumstance? Wisdom? Strength? Character? Maybe a deeper appreciation of those around us? Could it simply be an exercise in self discipline?

If we can see ahead to what we might gain from any given situation, I'm convinced we can accept it with grace. Everything, from profound issues like the serious illness or death of a loved one, to the the more mundane, like issues relating to our careers, to the more philosophical questions of why people come into and out of our lives, why we love whom we love, and what we do with that love, all contain the gift of a lesson. 

If we can see the gift of the lesson, we may be able to accept our circumstance with grace. It can be a comforting consolation to accept it in peace. We may, someday, even be able to say, "Thank you" for it.

Today I wish you the blessing of seeing the gift in your circumstance.

Who doesn't appreciate being consoled during tough times? Franz Liszt understood. During the latter part of his life, he turned his thoughts to more devout pursuits, and his compositions reflected that. In 1850, his sixteen works of "Consolations" was published, and it's a body of work of great lyricism and peace. Each one is a special devotion to consolation, but my favorite is "Consolation No. 3 in D flat Major." 

This performance was a revelation to me. In terms of sound quality, performance, and even down to the respectfully quiet audience (which can sometimes ruin a recording with coughing and the like), this one by Sunghee Lee Hinners in 2009 beats them all.

I hope you hear in this piece what I hear, the wonderful consolation found in acceptance. Enjoy.

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