Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pure Joy Pure Surprise

By B. Stuart Noll
All Rights Reserved
Technorati Favorites">

Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Most of us know that this only happens once in a blue moon; except that it happen to me three times in the same day.

One day recently my wife, Debbie and I spent a delightful afternoon at Maymont Park here in Richmond, Virginia. We had a rare 4 day weekend to work with and because of the struggling economy we decided to play closer to home. Debbie loves the outdoors and gardens are one of here favorites. So going to Maymont for an afternoon was a natural but, little did I know it would wind on paper like this.

Rarely do we have an opportunity to invest quality time with each other under such fantastic conditions, weather and spiritual, that is. But it wasn't the unusual nature of this day that I write about here, although I will use some of the experiences as metaphors.

Did I mention Debbie likes to photograph nature? She catches some very unusual events too! Like the face to face meeting with Mr. Otter. (below right) I didn't expect the otter to come and have a conversation nor did I expect my wife to take advantage of the photo op! But isn't that the way most of life is? A series, sometimes, of unexpected events. Unusual in their occurrence and timing, sometimes memorialized for posterity? (Oh My Gosh)

I suppose any occurrence can be seen as a chance meeting, but for those of us who believe there are no accidents and that everything happens for a reason, you have to ask yourself how did I come face to face with an otter? Or better yet, what cause would the creator of the universe have for putting me in touch with the finest woman on the face of this earth? How did my creator, or the universe for that matter know that on June 17th Debbie would be born and eventually her path would merge with mine. Mysterious, I know, but I couldn't be more grateful!

Take a careful look at the photo of the Clematis; gorgeous isn't it? How does the creator dream that one up? And why? Such intricate design sitting in the middle of a park, obscure to all but those who desire to see it or are aware enough to even notice it.

Such is the celebration of my wife's birthday. It may come and go for her, nonchalantly letting it slip by without much ado. But, for me, I am in awe that after so much hardship in both our lives that God, infinitely wise, would bring us together. For what purpose? I do not yet know. But this I do know. I am blessed beyond description to share one single solitary moment with a women whose passion and curiosity for life outstrips anyone else I know or have known. She makes me wonder why I was chosen to be so fortunate, out of all the possibilities that God had to choose from; this is one of those unusual occurrences that I am so grateful for.

Thanks Debbie, for allowing me to be. Thank you for permitting me to walk beside you and learn from you and share your ups and downs and for sharing mine as well. But thank you most of all for being as curious as the otter and as beautiful and intricate as the Clematis. You, my lovely bride, simply inspire me!


I love you very much,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hard Lessons

Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott once said, "Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons..." I agree with her wholeheartedly. In fact, I have experienced this perspective and I can appreciate the value of seeing our life's circumstances in a different light.

Think about it; if you view a life event or occurrence as a one time event, never to be replayed, what purpose will that serve? While I would also agree that the consequences of many of our choices are irrevocable and thus appear to be mistakes, the thought processes and circumstances which precipitate those often irrevocable actions will return until our perception grows into an alternative more in line with the will and wonder of the mystery of God.

Viewing life circumstances in this manner permits us to move forward from a potential stumbling block and ties us to not to the past, but to the present, which is so alive with possibilities. There is a freedom that accompanies this outlook that comes with knowing that you can change the outcome by viewing the circumstance differently the next time you face the same or similar situation.

For me, this has been an eye opening experience in the area of my career or shall I say careers. Like many men, I just couldn't decide on what I really wanted to do with my life. Although I am not unaccomplished I would never say I have done what I was sent here to do, whatever that is. I wouldn't call it a mid-life crisis, more of an ongoing predicament. I would continue to try new careers, thinking there has to be more than the one I'm in. Leaving each new venture could have been viewed as a mistake but, I now have the perspective that permits me to see each one as a lesson for what I am doing today - fulfilling my dreams.

I could have saved a lot of heartache and wasted energy by viewing each abandoned position as a lesson leading to growth instead of beating myself up for not accomplishing what my ego thought I should. Hey, I'm just being honest here. For all of the men going through this right now in the economy of today, I say change your perspective and move on, right now! And to my young friends entering the work force from college or high school or vocational schools or whatever, I say adopt this philosophy early on and pay attention more to the discovery of who you are than what you do. This will be one less lesson you will have to learn.

There are no mistakes, only lessons but, some of the lessons are very, very hard. Do your best to minimize them by seeking a mentor; someone who cares about you and humanity. Find one that's been in a similar circumstance yet can put his past behind him and stay in the present with you while at the same time relating the alternatives learned from the lessons of the past.

It is my deepest desire that you will walk through the lessons of life and come away with the wisdom and hope necessary to navigate the journey that precedes you and provides the rewards that you seek for yourself, your family and the communities you live in.
Blessings to you my friends and remember - the choice is always yours!