Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Readings And Reflections on Life's Transitions

Reverend Tom's sermon on Life's Transitions included some readings and a meditation that you might find useful and you face this new year.

The Farmer
One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So he let his horse loose to go the mountains and live out the rest of its life.
Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, "What a shame.  Now your only horse is gone.  How unfortunate you are! You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?" The farmer replied: "Who knows? We shall see".
Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating the wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the corral.
Word got out in the village of the old farmer's good fortune and it wasn't long before people stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good luck.  "How fortunate you are!" they exclaimed. You must be very happy!"  Again, the farmer softly said, "Who knows? We shall see."
At daybreak on the next morning, the farmer's only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses, but the farmer's son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg.  One by one villagers arrived during the day to bemoan the farmer's latest misfortune.  "Oh, what a tragedy!  Your son won't be able to help you farm with a broken leg. You'll have to do all the work yourself, How will you survive? You must be very sad,” they said.  Calmly going about his usual business the farmer answered, "Who knows? We shall see"
Several days later a war broke out. The Emperor's men arrived in the village demanding that young men come with them to be conscripted into the Emperor's army.  As it happened the farmer's son was deemed unfit because of his broken leg.  "What very good fortune you have!!" the villagers exclaimed as their own young sons were marched away. "You must be very happy." "Who knows? We shall see!” replied the old farmer as he headed off to work his field alone.
As time went on the broken leg healed but the son was left with a slight limp. Again the neighbors came to pay their condolences. "Oh what bad luck. Too bad for you"!  But the old farmer simply replied; "Who knows? We shall see."
As it turned out the other young village boys had died in the war and the old farmer and his son were the only able bodied men capable of working the village lands. The old farmer became wealthy and was very generous to the villagers. They said: "Oh how fortunate we are, you must be very happy", to which the old farmer replied, "Who knows? We shall see!"
What do you think about this story?
Do you see yourself as the farmer or the neighbors?

Changes vs. Transitions.  Organizational Consultant, William Bridges (Transitions) writes, “It isn’t the changes that do you in; it’s the transitions.  Change is not the same as transition.  Change is situational…Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation.  Change is external, transition is internal.”  Changes can be difficult; transitions are crucial, and both external change and internal transition must be addressed mindfully if we are to learn how to cope with, make meaning of, understand, and grow from the chaos that seems to be all around us and within us when change happens. 
Exercise: Explore Think of a change that recently happened in your life.
Hold that change in your mind and heart, replay it. 
Notice what you thought and felt before the change, during the change, and after the change.
What do you notice? 
Do you feel a variety of feelings, some at the same time? 
Are your thoughts racing or do they seem diametrically at odds? 
You will have to find a path through this internal process of thoughts and feelings—the transition.  Sometimes, in situations that don’t have major consequences, minimizing your reaction to change by waiting to see what happens may work.  But this way of facing the change, while it may seem a fairly calming, also limits the potential for more creative adaptation of our behavior and internal transformation of our thinking. 




  1. Wow! This really fits my life right now. Major changes have led me back to seeing a counselor. I am hopeful she can help me find some answers and heal from the hurt I feel. Thank you, Reverend Tom! We miss you here in Cedar Rapids!