Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Outta My Way Mountain

Twice last week people mentioned Kahlil Gibran to me. Interesting. I figured maybe there was something to it. I received this book as a gift in 1990.

It's a favorite. Over the course of 19 years, I've read it countless times. But, I must admit, not recently. So during my weekend of refueling, I read it. Three times. As usual, I was not disappointed. It is an impossibility for me to read the works of Kahlil Gibran and not do some thinking.

Have you ever attempted to move a mountain with your faith? You know, that faith, tiny as an itsy-bitsy mustard seed. Let me tell you...sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. There are times when that mountain is just not meant to be moved. Just because faith CAN move mountains does not mean faith WILL move mountains. And staring at it doesn't work either. If our faith won't move it, what happens next? For me, I think it's more about moving ourselves beyond the mountain.

I really can't stand it when people say things like:
"Well, if you just pray hard enough you'll get your miracle."
"If you just pray, with enough faith, that person will be healed."
"If you just have enough faith, it will all work out."

False, False, False. All of it. False. "It will all work out" is just not a phrase many people in the middle of a mountainous struggle care to hear. Most likely, any person with any amount of faith believes that things will eventually work out. The eventually part is what we have a problem with, ok? Not to mention that something "working out" does not mean it will be pain free. So, how about saying something like: "I'm sorry you are having to go through this." or "I am thinking of you, and keeping you in my prayers." I understand most people have the best of intentions, but intentions don't make those statements any easier to stomach.

Because of things taking place in my life, I've recently spent a lot of time thinking about children. All of them. The ones born still. The ones born healthy who grow to bring parents joy and worry beyond belief. The children not yet conceived, but yearned for by so many. The children who are sick, whose parents look ahead at a mountain that could be moved by faith, but in this case for reasons unknown to them, will not be. This will make sense later in the post, but I believe every child, those found on this earth as well as those not on this earth are "living arrows".

Our individual circumstances are vastly different, but there are common threads that weave us together. Love. Joy. Heartache. Sorrow. Mountains. My hope is that we face our mountains with courage. Use faith to move that mountain, because if it is to be moved, we can do it. And, if it is not meant to be moved, I hope we find the faith necessary to move ourselves beyond the mountain.

Kahlil Gibran wrote:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies, but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might,that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Here's to finding peace, joy, and happiness, even as we bend in the archer's hand.


Rachel T. said...

Wow thats amazing Natalie! Im simply amazed at the fact that you read a book in its entirity 3 times in one weekend...lol but moving past that I am blown away by your insite, your perseverance, and your humulity. Life has a way of throwing us some major curve balls. Yes we are all aware it will eventually "work itself out" but its the refirers fire that we must endure as we are molded into the beautiful human beings that we are to become. Have patiences my dear and listen to the sprit, you will know what is to be done, for you are the one that hears it best. LOVE YOU!

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

Natalie said...

Don't be too impressed Rachel. It's a really short book. :)

Valsy said...

I read my copy last week too. Actually, my original from Juniper I got in 1986 is packed in the special box and I read the copy I gave to Tom several years ago. He gave it back to me when he was mostly dying, so I read Kahlil's words and Tom's writings in it as well. :) I remember you and I talked about it years ago and I was going to get you a copy but you already had one! :) Soul sisters....
By the way, I am sick of thinking there is some "wise purpose" of the Boy's illness. Chemistry happens and it doesn't always work out. End of story.

jen said...

All struggle. All face insurmountable challenges. Why some receive the miracle of survival or healing is truly beyond our understanding. And it seems so unfair to those of us who don't receive that miracle.
But my personal parenting mantra just came to mind. When my kids complain about how one kid gets to do this and I don't, blah blah blah, I tell them, "In order to treat you fairly, I have to treat you differently."
I just realized that's our Father's mantra as well.
And as unfair as it seems right now or five years from now, all will be understood someday.
Here's to someday.

Sue said...

Loved your post, Natalie, which resonated with me...as usual.

My favorite passage of scripture is in Philippiians 4:

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

We always hear verse 13, but the part I like is about learning to be content in whatsoever state we are...learning to be abased and to abound, to be full and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer need. I think that's why we came here...to trust God and submit to His will so that we can be humble enough to learn and do those things that will make us like Him.

So I agree, we don't always have to move those mountains. Sometimes we just need to learn to look past them...or maybe even to just look at them, let them be there, and be okay with it...because we know God is in charge and knows what He's doing.

Geez, this turned into a little sermonette. Sorry, but it's your fault. You're too darned thought-provoking!

karen said...

I wish I had something very wise to add, but I think it's already been well said by everyone here (and you). I received that book many years ago - when I was really too young to understand it. But every time I reread it, I understand it more and more. Thank you for a beautiful post, and thank you to everyone for your most inspiring thoughts. In my experience, many times it's not that the mountain must be moved, but rather how I react to the mountain. I hope I've improved and refined over the years, but I'm such a late bloomer I worry that it will never be enough. Again, I must learn to see more joy, and take each mountain as it comes, rather than feel I must deal with the whole mountain range at once. I hope you're happy today, my friend. Good thoughts going out to you.

mom said...

I do believe that some mountains, as you say, just will not be moved...in this life.

What is it that we always say? You never "get over" certain things, you only learn to "live beyond" those things.

I, for one, will never be able to understand that which is not explainable:
Why one lives, "the other" dies; one only knows wealth and plenty, "the other" only knows poverty and hunger; one mother has more children than ever imagined, "the other" can only imagine what one child would be; one child runs and plays, "the other" never takes a step; one house stands in tact, "the other" is washed away....among all the other "wonders." Simply cannot be explained.

For me, thinking about all of it makes me even a little crazier than I already am!

You are so incredibly right...it is not always "all o.k.!" I think that is the point....when IT is not o.k., somehow WE must still be!

I know that your inspiration and spirit resonate within the lives of all those you touch through your words. Sometimes in life, for "us to still be o.k." on the other side of the refiner's fire, we need others to help pull us through.

I am reminded of a quote from Alice in Wonderland: (Yep, Natalie gets her quotes from "The Prophet"..me, a lost little girl, a rabbit, and a cat! What can I say?).

"Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"
The Cat replied, "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."

I think a good deal depends on where we WANT to be in life...not always where we ARE....Whether to continue trying to move immovable mountains, or finding the strength to take the journey over and beyond the mountain in our way...

I just know that I always want you by my side pushing against the ones that might be moved and climbing over the ones that simply won't be budged.

I love you.

Shauna said...

All I know is I am on my way to buy the book!! What wonderful wisdom for all of us to be reminded of. Thank you!

Carly said...

Beautiful, really. I think I might have to go book-shopping later. I can already hear my husband groaning at the thought of me wandering into Barnes and Noble unsupervised!!! It really is true, but we sometimes forget, that faith doesn't mean we'll get what we want, it means we'll get through what we don't always want and be better for it.

KC Mom said...

So profound and sobering.
I will need to read this book for sure.
My heart aches for those whose mountains have not been moved. If only I had the faith enough to move it for them.

K2cole said...


Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

Hey Natalie,
That's such a beautiful reminder that our children are separate beings that we nurture and allow to grow. Thank you. I'm praying for your little guy.