It ain’t heaven

“My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.”*

We do not need certainty for the journey.

Hugh Macleod reminds me that we have more than enough for the journey if we notice it:

‘Abundance begins with gratitude.’**

Gratitude is seeing with an open mind.  It is a way of opening up life:

‘Gratitude isn’t about getting you into heaven after your dead.  Gratitude is a mindset about how to actually live.’**

I picked up a copy of Ken Mogi’s The Little Book of Ikigai a week or so ago:

Ikigai is a Japanese word for describing the pleasures and meanings of life.  The word literally consists of ‘iki‘ (to live) and ‘gai’ (reason)’^

He tells of how ikigai works out in the life of chef Jiro Ono:

‘Ono might even find ikigai in the cup of coffee he sips before starting each day.  Or in a ray of sunshine coming through the leaves of a tree as he walks to his restaurant in central Tokyo.

[…]

Ikigai resides in the realm of small things.’^

This being present to what is all around us and with in us provides us with what we need for our journey, including our values, talents, dreams, experiences, and friends and strangers who also live in this way.

Mogi continues by offering testimony of ikigai from a number of Okinawa residents who are more than 100 years old:

‘a 102-year-old Karate master told him that his ikigai was caring for his martial arts; a hundred-year-old fisherman said his could be found by continuing to catch fish for his family three times a week; a 102-year-woman said hers was in holding her tiny great-great-great-grand-daughter – she said it was like leaping into heaven’.^

These stories reminded me of the early Jesuit’s^^ who would begin their novitiate period with thirty days of solitude in order to identify what they must do they would go on to each say their endeavour was the most important thing in all the world.  It’s when we think there’s nothing more important to do than what we have identified our puropose, our ikigai.  When we see all there is to see, like a sunrise that seemed to take for ever to arrive:

Now the clouds are brighter than ever, on fire with pinklight, and still the sun is almost here.
It’s as if the promise of the day is the most beautiful – we come alive to the possibility of the day.

(*Thomas Merton, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog Let’s begin with “thank you”.)
(^From Ken Mogi’s The Little Book of Ikigai.)
(^^See Chris Lowney’s Heroic Leadership.)

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