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Reflecting on Reflection

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” Mark Twain

Love this quote from humorist Mark Twain. I am careful to follow my own joy path rather than one that has been artificially created by society. Trendy is not a concept I bow to. I was hypnotized in middle and high school by the illusion of popularity, which carried forward into the temptation to climb the rungs of the professional ladder during my career in higher education. It was through reflection that I returned to self and realized that cultural hierarchy didn’t have anything to do with serving my fellow humans.

Neale Donald Walsch is someone I admire, and I repeat one of his quotes to myself often, “What does this have to do with the agenda of my soul?” Before I was able to understand that, I had to define my soul’s agenda, which took a great deal of reflection, but the resulting clarity generated more meaning in my life. Now I base what I say and how I act according to the answer I get in the moment to that question. And one of my professors, Brian Luke Seaward, offered another helpful suggestion to “create a culture of one.” When I reflect on that, I understand that I have to inwardly stabilize myself if I am able to offer any helpful assistance to the post-pandemic world I once described as chaotic.

Once upon a time before social media and cell phones and apps, reflection was built into lifestyle through nature. Eventually it became scheduled…Sundays became a day of rest, we recognized a need to take time to “veg” and called in sick to give ourselves attitude adjustment or mental health days. Today the equivalent is called unplugging, but not only do people rarely do it, we are so addicted to our devices that few are even capable of doing it.

Somewhere along the line, we ceased reflecting on ourselves completely, too preoccupied with managing the lives of others and feeling that obligation to “fix” them. We conveniently and habitually step away from the mirror so we don’t have to face our own flaws, pain, emotions (fill in the blank). It is oh so much easier to notice the shortcomings of others, and offer advice. We have all of the solutions for their problems, without ever giving a thought to how to improve ourselves. Someone once wisely pointed out to me that the things we criticize about people are the very things we are guilty of. It took me a long time and deep reflection to realize the truth in that. Since then, my judgment of others has disappeared, allowing room only for acceptance and love for them, and considerable inner work for me.

When I was growing up and would shift responsibility from living my own life to considering how others should live, my mother would remind me to “Mind my own business.” Reflecting back on that I realize just how wise she was. Reflect on your life. You will discover a beautiful being.

From the Sanctuary:

The Halloween cards and decorations hit the retail store shelves weeks ago. Mums, hay bales and pumpkins are out at the nurseries. Conversations revolve around fall. Here at the sanctuary, I understand that there are still several weeks left of summer to celebrate, so I do. The goldenrod stalks have appeared in my hedgerow. Although the squirrels are collecting their nuts, they still take time to play; even though the robins, mourning doves and cardinals no longer wake me in the morning with their songs, they still entertain me with their daily presence at the feeder. Lingering hot days are welcome here, and I am enjoying the opportunity to keep my window open at night to be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the creek and katydids.

The end of summer for me will never be triggered by back-to-school sales or a U.S. holiday inspired by protesting workers. Instead, autumn will ring in with all its glory in nature’s time. Something to reflect on today.

Photo Credit: Megan Monk


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