Finding joy in the journey

Joy-in-the-journey-Thomas-S-MonsonThis past summer has been a beat down. Not just for me but for all of us. Not us as in my family but us as in humans living on this planet. Things are looking bleak and sometimes it feels like it’s a bit too much.

The beginning of the summer had so much promise, then bam. One tragedy after another. From Brussels, to France. The ongoing crisis in Turkey and Syria. Countless shootings in the U.S. and most recently, flooding in Louisiana. Then of course there’s the earthquake here in Italy which as of currently claimed the lives of 292 victims with more than TWO THOUSAND earthquakes/aftershocks in just one week.

We were still on vacation when the earthquake hit and while I was sound asleep, husband woke up and felt it. The bed moving, the keys on the wall safe swaying and the walls shaking. Bellaria is in the region of Emilia Romagna so it didn’t have any damage at all but to feel the quake from more than 120 miles away gives you a sense of how big it was. I woke up because of the screaming beachgoer who was waking up the entire block. Others came out onto their balconies to discuss the happenings. It wasn’t until morning that images began to appear of the damage. For those first few hours, that’s all anyone talked about. Then life went on… as it does. Sure we kept up with the coverage and discussed ways to help. We immediately texted to a number to donate money and husband mentioned making an appointment with AVIS (our blood bank) to donate; but we went about our days as usual. While these events are devastating and tragic, we can’t dwell on the storms of life.

Last month, I was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting. For those of you who are not LDS (Mormons), our Sunday service includes an hour session .. kinda like mass. Instead of having a clergyman speak the entire time, members of the congregation are asked to speak. You are given a topic and then give your talk on an assigned date. For the first time in my life, I was able to choose my topic.  I won’t go into how I chose it but it was about Finding Joy in the journey. This was based on the October 2008 General Conference talk by President Thomas S. Monson.

LET US RELISH LIFE AS WE LIVE IT, FIND JOY IN THE JOURNEY, AND SHARE OUR LOVE WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY. ONE DAY EACH OF US WILL RUN OUT OF TOMORROWS.

If you have a moment, read it.. it’s good. One paragraph in particular really stuck with me:

“Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.

This is our one and only chance at mortal life- here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey- now.”

I could easily let the ways of the world get me down. I could let fear mongering alter my way of thinking and become so afraid to live that I miss out opportunities. Instead, I could find the joy in life. I could dance in the rain while waiting for the storm to pass. Sure, we all have challenges, and we all will have struggles but that’s how we grow. That’s how we learn compassion, empathy, and love for our fellow man. That is how we get to serve and help others wether the storms in their life and in doing so, we do find joy.

As we ended our trip, we continued to follow the coverage on the news and yet continued to enjoy our time together. On our very last day, there was an incident. An elderly lady from Austria had a heart attack. She was in the water (on the shore) and wasn’t feeling well. She signaled for the help from the life guard that was out in the water. By the time they got to her, she had fallen into the water. I saw the life guard jump off the boat and run to her, 4 men carried her body and began CPR. As a crowd form, one of the medical crew asked everyone to leave. About an hour later, we learned that she didn’t make it.  Again..just like that, we were all reminded that life is fragile. Let’s make the most of it.

ENJOY. LIFE. NOW.

*If you want to send monetary funds to help with relief efforts, visit the Italian Red Cross Facebook page for more details. You’ll find a the IBAN number to transfer fund directly to them.

*The National Italian American Foundation is a stateside foundation who are also accepting donations to relief efforts.

*If you’re worried about the furry friends, not to worry. There’s a group of expats who have banded together to help them as well. Check out Raising Funds to feed the Displace pets of the Italian Earthquake. 

*The Syrian refugee crisis is still going on and Lifting Hands International is a great organization. They run a refugee camp in Greece and are always in need of help.

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