Bane or blessings

Perhaps this will turn out to be a misfortune. 

Perhaps this will turn out to be a blessing. 

I had just such a moment only two days ago. 

I had been planning and scheming for our big Unity karaoke evening for more than a month. I had prepared the music DVDs, got a special cable, purchase the cups and the refreshments. I had even finished slicing limes, lemons, and oranges and strawberries for the Pimms cup. 

And in the midst of that excited preparation, I saw walking toward me the fellow who leads a monthly ecstatic dance event at Unity. 

“Hi”, I said in a completely unsuspecting friendly way “what are you up to?” 

He looked puzzled. “Uhh… we have an event tonight” he said. 

A tremor passed through me but quickly passed because I knew I had checked the calendar carefully. 

“No, no, there must be some mistake. There’s nothing on our calendar.” 

He began sort of hyperventilating and said “The band is on their way… The publicity… I need to sit down.” I quickly checked the old emails and – sure enough – he had requested this date. 

And we both sat staring at each other. And then we stood staring at each other. And as the members of his band began to arrive, we both knew we had a really big problem on our hands. 

“Uh Oh. We have two big events in one space…” 

This was definitely a misfortune. There was no way I could see myself saying “this could turn out to be a blessing.” 

I was thinking about how I could possibly cancel karaoke an hour before it was due to begin. Something kept me from doing that – perhaps my attachment to that event or perhaps something a bit more laudable. Perhaps I was motivated by some hope – maybe even a hint of faith that somehow this could work out. 

In desperation, I ran over to a nearby pub – a place where we’ve developed some good relations and I explained the situation to the manager, knowing that she would say “no”. She would have to say no. You can’t just show up and set up karaoke in a pub that’s not expecting it or set up for it. 

And she said “yes.” 

It wasn’t simple by any means. It was actually a mad rush – Julia helped and between us, we managed to find and connect all the bits we needed and at 7:30 pm, we found ourselves standing proudly before a fully set up a sound system, video display, computer, microphones… everything… 

And we also found that the pub’s regulars were looking at us with suspicion… deep suspicion. What were these interlopers – North Americans at that – doing in their pub? 

And then, one pub regular who shall remain nameless took the plunge. He was the first person to sing. He wasn’t what you call a professional singer – quite the opposite. And that was perfect – because now anyone could sing – pub regulars, Unitarians, good singers, bad singers… anyone. 

And it took off from there. When they shut the place down, we still had a big stack of song requests and people were asking “are you here every Friday night?” 

There are now a whole bunch of Islingtonians who might never visit a Unitarian congregation who actually have a pretty positive view of us. 

So, our apparent misfortune became a huge blessing. 

That lesson comes at an interesting time of year. 

We have just passed summer solstice – the day when we enjoy the most hours of daylight. On the 21st of June, the sun was in the sky for 16h 38m and 21s. That was Tuesday. 

And today, five days later, although the heat and sun of summer seems to have arrived at last, we have already lost 1 m and 9s! Tomorrow will be another 32 seconds shorter! By a month from now, the hours of sunlight will be nearly an hour fewer than today. 

It’s a miserable ride from there down to December when we will hit a low of only 7h 49m and 43s of daylight – less than half of what it is today. 

Well, we have a choice today. Do we celebrate the wonder of the long days we are now enjoying, or do we moan “Woe is me! Woe is me!” at the fact that it only gets worse from here on out? 

Or, to put that another way, as Mary Oliver did in her amazing poem: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” 

We have a similar choice every day. 

Life almost never hands us pure, unadulterated joy. There is rarely a day when everything goes exactly as we would like. And thus, every day offers us choices... 

We have the choice of whether to appreciate what we have or to mourn over we don’t have. 

We can grasp anxiously onto what we have in fear that we will lose it, or we can hold loosely to our blessings knowing that a tightly clenched hand is unable to accept the new gifts that life has to offer. 

We can celebrate what we are able to do or grieve for what we can not. 

We can welcome the changes to our plans as a new adventure or spurn them as interruptions to the way things should be. 

Every day offers us choices. 

I don’t usually try to tell you what to do. 

Today, I’ll make an exception. 

I just want to tell you to love life! Love every minute of your life. Love the bad times and the good. Love the weeds with the flowers. Love the boring times along with the exciting ones. 

Today offers us many hours of light. It beckons with many possibilities. Let’s get out there and grab it while it lasts. 

We’ll deal with winter when it comes. 

May it be so.