TranSpiration combines “Transition”, “Inspiration” and “Spirituality” and by definition, means water or vapor flowing through a living organism.
ONWARD IN FAITH*
Doing More With Less
I may have been one of the first to call Leslie, my spouse of 43 years, “Les.” She was raised in a traditional Minnesota family with English roots, and everyone used the more formal, “Leslie.” But the casualness of “Les” seemed to suit our relationship better. And I cleverly decide that if I ever had a sailboat, I could name it “The Les is More.”
Sometimes, less really is more and good can come from loss even in something as significant as a career path, job or position in an organization. Strength, courage and new opportunities we never imagined. Of course, this kind of clarity stays well hidden in the early stage of loss—disbelief, disappointment, uncertainty and worry about the future provide effective camouflage.
In an earlier TranSpirations, I wrote about the Indianapolis Colts Coach, Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia and wrote to his team, “We will all be better for this.” He saw something positive both in his suffering and in the concerns of his team. I tried to gain that perspective in the early stage of my diagnosis:
From Tom’s journal–Fortifications for a Cancer Journey
I wouldn’t be writing or living this if I hadn’t been diagnosed with this disease which I will hopefully live with for 15-20 plus years…but who knows. I wouldn’t be who I am this moment if I didn’t have it. And who am I this moment? I am who I always have been– a dad, husband, son, uncle, counselor, teacher, athlete, leader, and friend; a child of God. All those roles and relationships. They haven’t changed.
And with this illness and new perspectives which have come from it, I am also one who is spiritually stronger and sees important matters with more clarity, richness, and understanding. I value the present more. I enjoy simple things in new ways. I appreciate competent, compassionate healthcare professionals like I never did before; I feel a deeper sense of gratefulness for life. And yes, I also am more willing to look at death and be less afraid. In a true sense, I am simply better. Thanks, Coach Pagano. I still have my faults to be sure. Just ask the people who are closest to me. But this very moment, although my bodily health is less—I am more.
John O’Donohue’s poem, For Absence** reinforces this idea.
Ask yourself how your transition has made you stronger or braver in facing the future. How can you use this strength in the work which is required to get that next job? Make a list of how you or your significant others may be “better,” closer, or stronger.
May you know that absence is alive with hidden presence,
That nothing is ever lost or forgotten.
May the absences in your life grow full of eternal echo.
May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere.
Where the presences that have left you dwell.
May you be generous in your embrace of loss.
May the sore well of grief turn into a seamless flow of presence.
May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear from.
May you have the courage to speak for the excluded ones.
May you become the gracious and passionate subject of your own life.
May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words of false belonging.
May you be embraced by God in whom dawn and twilight are one.
May your longing inhabit its dreams within the Great Belonging.