A young man, Alo, stopped by my office last week. He had a sweet smile and a gentle, curious demeanor. He looked around and noticed a friend's photography displayed in the waiting room. "I really like these," he said. There were also some Hopi pots sitting on the mantle over the wood stove. He told me he is Hopi and was raised on the Hopi mesas northeast of Flagstaff.
"What do you do?" he asked.
"I am a counselor and a writer," I said.
He looked into my eyes and asked, "What is your mission?"
"That's a great question," I replied, with gratitude for his interest.
"Come over here." I pointed to the candle faithfully burning on the table that sits between me and my clients. "My mission is to help keep our spirit candles burning, even when the darkness settles in," I said.
There was silence. My new friend and I shook hands and expressed our mutual desire to meet up again. I'll always remember that brief encounter.
Mission? Spirit candles? Darkness?
Life is our job. We are usually able to reveal our "job description" when we slow down from our busy lives and ask, "What is my mission?" Some of us must wait patiently for the answer. Others have known our life's mission from the beginning. For others it has had to make its way through dark tunnels and confusing terrain to finally appear. As the years go on, our mission often changes with our ever-changing life situations.
Knowing our purpose keeps life meaningful and on track, but not necessarily easy. It's not supposed to be easy. What would be the point?
What's your mission? There's probably more than one answer. It's a serious question, one I hope everyone ponders at least a few times along the way. Share your answer with some folks close to you. Ask them about theirs. How about the children? Ask them, too. Tell them yours. The earlier we start, the sooner we get in the game with this essential question...and our guiding answers.
A wise friend once shared these words:
If you don't take yourself seriously, who will?
If you take yourself too seriously, who cares?
About the darkness...
Having a mission helps keep us on track, but life creates so many ways to distract and discourage us along the way. My mission has been clear for most of my adult life:
Learn about love, get better at it, teach it, accept how little I know, make amends when I mess up and be deeply thankful all along the way.
As the years go by I have come to realize that every challenge is designed to strengthen our focus and resolve. Here are some of the challenges that interfere with the arc of my life's mission.
• Simply being human.
• Forgetting I'm on a mission.
• Listening to the wrong internal voices.
• Taking what others say too personally.
• Taking my infinite blessings for granted.
• Not getting enough rest.
• Speaking more than listening.
• Allowing "busy, busy" to take over.
• Forgetting every struggle is there to learn from.
• Moods. Oy!
• Oh, did I mention being human?
Is my mission accomplished yet?