Forgive me for taking a personal line this month. I am feeling the need to gather together to a positive touch point. I hope you find my thoughts worthwhile.
In the last five weeks I’ve attended three funerals. Two were gentlemen, aged 93 and 87, fathers of close friends. Each passed peacefully after long lives, leaving families saddened but strengthened by their long lives and loving support.
The third was a bit tougher. My friend, a daughter, a wife and a mother, 52 years old passed unexpectedly. In recent years we hadn’t seen each other much, but when we did it was like we had just seen each other yesterday. We would catch up on the news of our kids and their lives, additions, changes, etc., and always over a cold beverage.
I knew she’d had a bout with cancer years ago and that it had resurfaced recently but I didn’t realize that she fought against melanoma for 21 years. She never talked about it, she never complained.
She was joyful. She was frequently smiling and always conjuring up an adventure. She was genuinely happy and squeezed every last experience out of her short life. I never heard her talk about her illness. She just carried on and fought against its progression.
These three funerals all had one reference in common. Each homily referenced the same book. I felt like Somebody was trying to tell me something! After being hit with the third reference, I ran out for a copy and began reading, The Book of Joy – Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.
The book was written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. It is a rare glimpse into a week the two spent together to answer the ultimate question; “what is joy?” Far from a self-help book, it is an opportunity to hear two friends talk about real lives and how they have been able to find courage through tragedy, peace to accept what is and joy to carry on every day.
These two leaders have seen substantial hardship and have figured out how to find joy in spite of it. I found it funny that The Dalai Lama considers himself a ‘simple monk’ and the Archbishop claims no sainthood.
At three funerals, I learned these two gentlemen and one beautiful woman figured it out.
If reading The Book of Joy and applying the principals can add more joy and peace to my life and and to the lives of those around me, I say, “YES! Give me some of that!”
Here’s to you my friend,