Recently I read a striking quotation from Edith Sitwell, an English poet born in 1887. She said, “I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty... But I am too busy thinking about myself.”
I’m not sure if she was serious or if this was just a clever comment. But it did prod me to think about self, and its children: selfishness, self-justification, self-love, self-condemnation, self-centeredness, and on and on. How vulnerable we can become, that old love of self blocking out the concerns of others and the good we could be doing. Like blinders on an old plow horse, selfishness can limit us to a constant focus on our own lives, so important to us, granted, but still just a part of an endless universe of divine Mind.
My favorite author, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote a wonderful description of a worthy life goal, love and affection free from self: “As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 250).
I recently saw a picture that a friend had shared on her Facebook page, a picture of a gentle creek, flowing naturally and calmly through her property.
I could almost hear a voice in the bubbling murmur that the creek was sharing ... a voice telling me that life flows on, over rocks and obstacles.... And wends its way along its course without fear, or rancor, or strife ... gently singing its sweet song of life and harmony, effortlessly carrying along a fallen leaf on its surface, nurturing the little fish swimming in its comforting boundaries, sharing its beauty generously, selflessly ... with all.
The thought of the constant, effortless flow of the stream, unmindful of itself, reminded me of this Hindu saying:
Nothing in the nature lives for itself
Rivers don’t drink their own water
Trees don’t eat their own fruit
Sun doesn’t give heat for itself
Flowers don’t spread fragrance for themselves
Living for others is the rule of nature
Important as each one of us is, as precious as we are to our Father, the Creator, that infinite source of love and intelligence, our own lives are made meaningful by loving and caring for others.
Adapted from the author’s blog.