Have you ever invited a friend to stay, begun to show them around your locality, and suddenly noticed all the amazing things that are nearby? Cities, countryside, quirky buildings, little streets you rarely go down because you don’t need to. All too often, we don’t see what’s actually around us. I work in a complex of ancient to modern buildings, and I am given the opportunity to see amazing things every day. It is entirely possible not to leave the working complex all day until leaving for the train. Regularly I have to remind myself of the opportunities and exploration to be done, and exit the building on purpose, to go on a small jaunt. I looked out a different window this week as I went over a bridge and there, in front of me, peeping over the top of an office block, was a carved stone scene atop a building. I loved it; a little visual treat.
On my travels between the station and work, I love getting a glimpse of this building. Nestled in between skyscrapers with ‘only’ three floors, the very term ‘lying-in’ denotes a time gone by.
I know two phrases in Latin. One is rude, and the other is ‘carpe diem’ – seize the day. Grab hold of today. Do things purely because it is today.
This week I decided I was going to go to a comedy show, by myself. Alas when I went to book, it was sold out, and I was disappointed. But I was also proud of myself. I was going to go by myself. Alone. And I was going to have a jolly good time doing so. It’s taken me a while to get to that point. I mostly like company, and it feels strange and unnatural to me to go somewhere alone. I’ve had to teach myself that going somewhere unaccompanied is fun. I can go as slowly (reading in museums) or quickly (through art galleries usually) as I would like. I’ve seized the days. Have I ever regretted it? My body is sometimes trying to recover from the pace at which I’m living life, but no. After all, you only live once.
One of the things that holds us back from leaping into life is the past. I turn here to the poetic words of The Monkees. A treasure of my childhood, I sang along in the car to many a Monkees tune, but only recently have these lyrics struck a chord (excuse the pun)…
“Though you’ve played at love and lost,
And sorrow has turned your heart to frost,
I will melt your heart again.
Remember the feeling as a child,
When you woke up and the morning smiled,
It’s time you felt like you did then.
There’s just no percentage in remembering the past,
It’s time you learned to live again at last…
Come with me, leave yesterday behind,
And take a giant step outside your mind.
You stare at me in disbelief,
And say for you there’s no relief,
But I swear I’ll prove you wrong.
Don’t stay in your lonely room,
Just staring back in silent gloom,
That’s not where you belong.
Come with me I’ll take you where the taste of life is green,
And every day holds wonders to be seen…
Come with me, leave yesterday behind,
And take a giant step outside your mind.”
These words never fail to make me smile as I sing along loudly in the car. It’s the song I imagine God would sing to us when we’re sitting, miserable, feeling guilty. I hope it’s not heretical to suggest God might like The Monkees, but He would definitely invite us to live. To live life to the absolute full.
We’ve all done stuff wrong. As the song says, move on from it. Don’t hold onto it and think over it forever.
What makes the Christian God different to any other is His mercy. He doesn’t punish us for what we have done wrong. In fact, even though we’ve done things that we might think are pretty unforgivable, he gives us gifts we don’t deserve! He forgives our mess-ups and failures, and blesses us at the same time. God forgives you. Have you forgiven yourself?
Waking up to a morning that smiles? That feels good. Be it a sunny day, a delicious plan with a friend, snuggling down with a good book, or a TV series, going to work knowing you’re going to make a difference to someone, and have a conversation that inspires, all these things can make your morning smile. Who knows what opportunities the day will offer up?
So maybe walk a different route this week. Say yes to something you wouldn’t usually do. Go somewhere by yourself – if you usually go alone, take someone with you instead.
Slow down, look around, enjoy and savour. Live life at one hundred miles per hour.
Embrace each day, no matter what you’ve done, or think you’ve done, and step into a world of possibilities.