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Friday, February 11, 2011

Hold that Memorable Moment

Today I watched the celebrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as the people of Egypt celebrated the birth of a new nation.  In an attempt to share their exhilaration, I asked myself when was the last time I felt like that.  The answer came reluctantly—I guess I never celebrated a whole day and night for anything.  The next question, then, was what would make me feel like that?  Maybe nothing except that identical experience—freedom after thirty years of yearning for it. The closest experience I can think of has occurred in spiritual retreats I have attended held under the auspices of the Methodist church.  These retreats lasting a few days to a week are a time of spiritual renewal.  One feels deeply inspired—on a mountain top; but there is also the numbing recognition that the time and feeling are special.  Neither can nor should they last.  One must return from the spiritual feast of the retreat to the fray of everyday life and work. Even the church experience back home will include budgets, expenses, and leaky roofs.  Just so the spiritual rejoicing enjoyed by the Egyptians will be followed by the toil that is part of daily life.  If their efforts at democracy are successful, ahead of them lie the seemly endless conflict of political campaigns and debates, the assumption of the business of nation building and maintenance, the long and lonely hours of individual preparation to become competitive in labor markets, the struggles with all the foibles of human nature.  Spiritual celebrations are essential to confirm in our minds the values that we hold and share, but their specialness only serves to confirm their transient aspect.  We must cherish the memorable moments in our hearts.

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