The three legged runner is the symbol of the beautiful Isle of Man which I loved exploring.
Ah, that’s me. One foot in the past—well, naturally, I am writing a memoir. One foot in the present, trying to live each day well. One restless foot leaping into the future, planning, dreaming.
For if we do not learn to be happy in our present, such as it is, it is highly unlikely that we will be happy in our future, such as it will be.
For the secret seeds of happiness are found within ourselves.
If all the stuff we have, all the money we earn has not made us happy, it is unlikely that having more of the above will make us happy. If our garden, as it is now, is not a deep joy, the perfect garden will not be a deep joy either. Our restlessness will persist. If the success we have found in our work, such as it is, has not made us happy, odds are, more success will not make us happy either. For apparently success does not contain it itself the seeds of happiness, and we have not yet found a way for our work itself to make us happy.
That is one summary of the Book of Ecclesiastes: Rejoice in your work, in your spouse, in your everyday life, for life is short
But the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even their name is forgotten.
Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.
So go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
However, this earth was never designed to entirely satisfy us. God withholds just enough of bliss so that our appetite for our true home, in him, remains.
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.” C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
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How do we find joy and happiness in our daily life in this world which is our temporary home?
Cultivating a habit of gratitude, thanking God for the goodness of the day changes the flow of my inner life to gratitude. Recording three good things helps. Or using a 10 minute repeating timer on my phone, and thanking God for something glorious when it buzzes: the ever-changing panorama of the skies, the people who love me, the house and garden I live in, the books and art which have enriched my life; the places I have travelled to, the beautiful things I have seen.
I love this George Herbert’s poem “Gratefulnesse”
Thou that hast giv’n so much to me,
Give one thing more, a gratefull heart
Without that grateful heart, we will not fully appreciate what we already have, or what is yet to come.
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