Dear reader, last year around this time I found myself driving down the Trans Canada highway with Izzy, on complete sensory overload due to the lush beauty surrounding us and my memories from long ago. I wish I could do that every year--just jump in the car and drive to my childhood home, but I don't relish the circumstances that made such a getaway possible. It was quite the bowl of lemons and the road trip was our attempt to make lemonade.
I must say it was a pretty good drink.
A few thoughts have stared me in the face this past year, helping me make better sense of the troubles that come and seem totally beyond our control:
"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured."
~ Gordon B. Hinckley
"Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.
~ Gordon B. Hinckley
"There are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before. This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life."
~ Thomas S. Monson
This summer there have been no epic road trips, though we've managed a few shorter getaways that offered their own great delight. On the other hand, we've made a notable acquisition of the most darling hognose snakes, thanks to my husband's newfound interest in husbandry and the species. For me it's a longer held fascination, dating back to childhood when I tried to catch every ribbon snake who crossed my path.
This summer, then, is less a grand, outward adventure and more one of quiet, inner contemplation. Both ways suit me so well I can hardly tell which I like best, though I do close my eyes and see the lakes, the mountains, the highway, my beautiful Okanagan valley.
I'm left not knowing how to summarize, on what note to end, to say how good life is and how the bonds of faith, of family and friends, the beauties of nature, our creative efforts, and the gestures of kindness we give and receive make all the difference. I don't claim to have mastered anything, but I do recognize this as the source of true satisfaction.
I may drive all the way to Canada or sit in a room, gazing upon a snake with the most charming upturned nose. Everything else, all of life's ups and downs, may be going on as well.
In the end it somehow seems the same to me, beautiful in different ways, and I hope I'm grateful for it.