Immediately, I felt my weariness lift and a refreshing burst of life spark in me. Cecily has a great laugh, a sense of humor that keeps you laughing, an infectious smile, and wisdom beyond belief that she shares generously. While we don't know each other as closely as I do some of my other friends and in truth haven't spent an enormous amount of time with her, she's one of those people you feel you've known your whole life. As we talked endlessly on a bench in the dark night, the lights in the cemetery creating a warm glow and rain falling gently and splashing playfully on the bricks at my feet, I felt peace. Despite the fact that some of our conversation was about dealing with difficult people and trying to navigate through uncomfortable situations, the serene, summer evening was steeped in calm and felicity.
I don't really have a mantra. I have phrases I like, and sometimes I'll spontaneously chant something to myself repeatedly if a situation inspires it in me, but I don't have a phrase I keep in my pocket at the ready. While we were talking, Cecily told me that she has this mantra, and it's been very helpful to her: "My life will not always be this way." The power in that phrase was instantly apparent to me, and I sort of took a moment to let it sink in. We kept talking and eventually ended a long conversation with hugs and farewell wishes, but the phrase stuck with me.
When you first hear it, "My life will not always be this way," you might think about troublesome, dark times ("the depths of despair," as one of my favorite literary heroines--Anne of Green Gables--likes to say). Surely this is a mantra to use when you are down and out, to think of happier times ahead. It's the light at the end of the tunnel. It's the glass half full. It's the hope that we all want, need, and deserve (can you tell I'm a positive, optimistic person?). Our lives will not always be that way.
But what really struck me about this phrase is that right now, in my life, I'm very happy. I am blessed with many things and I can't complain about my situation. I was thinking in my head that my life will not always be this way--that there will be those dark, troublesome, hopeless depths of despair that I know only too well. There will be times of strife, sorrow, anger, disappointment, grief, and frustration; it is inevitable. What I am using this mantra for is to remind me that the crest of the wave will fall and crash on the shore and it is then I must remember those good times, the joy that is in life. Now is the time to prepare myself for how I will pull myself up and out back into the light. Those dark times ahead are when, I suppose, I'll use the mantra in the other way, to remind myself that life gets better.
Whatever your current situation in life, reader, I hope Cecily's mantra is a comfort. Life changes so quickly and without warning, and we're all riding on the waves.
Below are views of my church courtyard during the day. Our bench is not visible, as we were close to a wall across from the sanctuary, taking shelter from the summer rain under a small awning.