At this Christmas time, we hurry about giving thought to all those around us. Some may say it is “much to do about nothing”…but most of us would deny this. What we do at special times of year to show our love is much to do about everything. It may or may not be received with gratitude, but it is a moment that we think of others more than ourselves. It is a time to live life well and to strive to live even better in the future.
A very old book is in our home library. The author, Thomas A Kempis, wrote Imitation of Christ as a devotional reading for Christians to find God’s meaning to life. Thomas was born at the town of Kempen, Germany in 1380
He is known for various quotations, as “Without the Way, there is no going, Without the Truth, there is no knowing, Without the Life, there is no living.” The one that especially made me think more deeply was in his writing on vanities (excessive pride).
“Vanity, it is to wish to live long and to be careless to live well.”
Yes, most of us hope for a long and wonderful life! To most of us, however, “living well” probably means having financial security, being able to indulgent as we desire, having a great career and many friends, a good family, and leaving a mark on society when life is all finished. This may sound simplistic and somewhat sad that we could sum up our lives in one sentence.
What does living well really mean? Everyone is a philosopher to some degree and have made comments about living and doing it well.
- George Patton: “It is better to fight for something than to live for nothing.”
- Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier. – Albert Schweitzer
- To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends.
To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
A great deal of emphasis is placed on the New Year and the resolutions that are made as we try to begin each year anew. We all want to live better in the next year and honestly hope for a better world: for better decisions made by our leaders…for those displaced and in the clutches of war and disaster to find a place of peace…for the minds of the world’s youth, who are easily pulled into evil and fanaticism. All this would appear to be living well if it could come to fruition.
Ann Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Even she could see a life’s goal in the midst of terror and hatred. Neither did she know that her life would be cut short, but it would serve as a testimony of believing in the beauty of people for millions around the world.
The remaining question is for each of us to find for ourselves…how we will choose to live well after this Christmas season has ended and the New Year begins.
According to Thomas Kempis, when he was writing Imitation of Christ, were some of the following thoughts (in old English):
- “Presume not upon thyself, but place thy hope (and life) in God.
- Trust not in thine own knowledge, nor in the subtilty of any living creature, but rather in the grace of God, who helpeth the humble and humbleth those that are self-presuming.
- Glory not in wealth if thou have it…but in God who giveth all things and above all desireth to give thee Himself.”
We end with these final thoughts for your thinking this year:
You know you are living well when you:
- Wake up in the morning and can’t wait for the adventure that lies ahead of you.
- You are optimistic, cheerful and confident
- Are interested in and want to contribute to others and the world around you.
- Focus on the good things in your life and improve on what’s not working.
- Are aware, appreciative and engaged in life.
- Turn obstacles into opportunities.
- Seize each moment (Taken from essentiallifeskills.com)
We would add to this a renewed trust and search for the love of Christ in ourselves and what we are to others.
Video (Turn up sound) Recorded in the Italian home town of St. Francis of Assisi. Vocal by Angelina