Who has lived well?
We can’t cage life. We cannot freeze the present happy day under glass. We can’t impale it like a butterfly in a frame. No, life moves inexorably on, whether we go with it or not. It rocks and lurches and limps along. It reels from high to low at a pace often too wild to follow, sometimes slow to bear.
The myth of life lived on an even keel persists in the minds of many, but seduces only the weak of heart. Life is a growing thing going from seed to sapling, from pillar to post, hither and yon, forwards and backwards but always, always toward its purpose, the shaping of the self into a person of quality, compassion, and joy. For that to happen, every smallest segment must be faced and cannot be fled. Life is not controllable; it is only doable.
Therefore, the keeping of the beat of life, the getting to the marrow of each of its measures, all of its elements is what the dance of life is really about. Who has lived well? Those who have sucked the juice of life from every period of its growing. Who is the happy person? Those who have survived each of these elements and found themselves to be more human, more wise, more kindly, more just, more flexible, more integrated because of having lived through that period of time, that moment of definition, that phase of survival, that streak of chastening awareness.
No doubt about it, the cycle of time shapes and reshapes our misshapen selves until we have the opportunity to become what we can.
—from For Everything a Season by Joan Chittister (Orbis)