I was walking through briers and thick weeds, picking my way carefully to avoid stepping on any Copperhead snakes. Kicking away vines and undergrowth, I could make out traces of what had once been a cinderblock foundation. I saw the remnants of a road which looked like it had been a hundred years since anyone had walked down it.
Only it hadn’t been a hundred years. I was standing on ground that only thirty years prior had been my bedroom. The briers I had waded through were once manicured lawns and flower beds. I had ridden my first tricycle, my first bicycle, my first car down a street that wasn’t even there anymore. I was confronted, more starkly than I ever had been before, with the impermanence of all things.
Although I hope you haven’t experienced your childhood home being reduced to rubble, I know you’ve experienced change, because that’s the nature of living in this world. But how do we deal with living in a world that will always be filled with change? Let me tell you four words that can guide our journey.
The first word is accept. Acceptance of what is is always the first step in any path of growth, so we must accept that all things change and pass away. Those who try to ignore or resist change still have to endure it, but usually with much more suffering in the end. I could spend the rest of my life mourning that my childhood home is gone if I choose to, but all that would do would be to keep me frozen in the past.
The second word is enjoy. Knowing that all things pass away can be an invitation to truly enjoy what we are now experiencing, to drink every last drop from the cup of today, and to do the same tomorrow, because we know there will come a day when it will be no more.
The third word is embrace. All endings are also beginnings— that is the way of the world too. We can choose to embrace change as the way new and beautiful growth comes into our lives.
The last word is transcend. The ever-changing nature of this world can point us to what never changes— our eternal soul and our eternal connection to the love of God. In the midst of any change we can always find an anchor, a grounding, of the eternal, the infinite, in the midst of our human experience. Our grounding to God allows us to transcend the changes of this earthly life and fully live them.