“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy
These last couple of weeks I have been cleaning, organizing, sorting, tossing and donating things throughout the house as I try to take back some time from a very busy August and September with my family as well as at the office. It’s amazing how quickly I realized that in all of this busyness of my daily life how many things have changed right before me that I almost missed in my exhausted stupor!
How blessed we are to be able to witness the changing of the seasons from a warm and colorful autumn to an early winter. The physical changing of the house clocks to register the longer, brighter days of summer to the darker, cooler ones marking the year’s end. The changing of our swimsuits, shorts and open-toed sandals to our warm, fuzzy long-sleeved sweaters, thick wool socks and waterproof boots. The change from open windows with curtains blowing in the wind, to the running of our furnaces and toasty, crackling fireplaces heating our homes.
The changing of school sports activities from outside football games wearing hats and mittens and wrapped in homemade quilts to loud, cheering events inside the warm, stale gym. The changing of light refreshing meals like salads, fruits and cold beverages to warm, gooey comfort foods of homemade soup, macaroni and cheese and homemade apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream. The unfortunate changing of energy levels from wanting to go, go, go from dawn ‘til dusk to enjoy as many hours of the day as possible to wanting to nap and cuddle under a nice warm blanket with a cup of tea from 2 p.m. ‘til bedtime, even in the middle of the week!
So what really is change? Webster states that change is the continual process of growth or modification basic to life.
Clearly there are things that change around us that we have no control over, but we do have the power to make changes within us. Just because we retreat into the warmth of our homes doesn’t mean we should also retreat into our own selves as our world around us changes.
Change requires action and, inevitably, effort as it is not a passive event or experience. Change is about making good choices through both joyful and difficult experiences. These experiences will hopefully help us to learn rather than to blame, to gain insight and not develop guilt, to be understanding and not condemning, to accept and not to judge.
Though change is difficult to many, we will hopefully have learned to have an openness, an acceptance and an understanding to new and loving ways of thinking, acting and relating to God, ourselves and others. We must recognize that we are forever changed with every hurt and joy we face in our daily lives. We must recognize that we are forever changed with each miraculous encounter we have with others.
Making a change, whether it be taking on a simpler more humble lifestyle or choosing to be positive in any situation we face, changes you, changes me and, most important, changes the world one step at a time.
Elizabeth Neville is director of the St. Cloud Mission Office.