Priorities

For the Girl Who Likes Blue

For the Girl Who Likes Yellow

These mirrors are a gift for twin girls who are three years old.  Children that age love to find things, especially on the ground when they are out walking.  Their pockets and rooms fill with rocks, sticks, shiny papers and such.  These mirror frames filled with colorful tiles, rocks, glass flowers, and tiny beads, enough to pique the curiosity of a pair of growing girls.

For a parent, the unquestionable first priority is the child- her health, her mental and spiritual growth, her opportunities in life.  Through their innate cuteness, babies make sure that they are their parents’ priorities and, when that fails, they force the issue through their loudness.  Parents usually put their own needs aside at least part of the time, in order to do what the child needs for them to do.   Having a multiple birth means that there are two or more tiny people each vying to be the most important element of their parents’ lives.  The parents are forced to figure out their priorities because no one can be in two places at once or do two things at once well.  If all goes according to plan, by the time the parents have raised the children, the young adults will understand that each person is not the center of the universe.  They will each understand how to put their own needs and comfort aside part of the time in order to serve the needs of others.

But, how do we learn to set our own priorities in a world that cries out for attention from every corner?  When we’ve reached the state of maturity in which our whims are no longer our dictates, how do we decide which friends to keep and which to let go?  Which activities to continue and which to let slide?  Which organizations to support and which to ignore?  Which of the world’s needs to fulfill and which to allow someone else to serve?  We had a young pastor at our church who repeated on several occasions the adage that we find our life’s calling at the intersection of the world’s deepest need and our greatest desire.  This is profound for several reasons.  Looking for the world’s deepest need entails setting aside thoughts of oneself and looking at the highest good for others, the noblest condition of our human souls.  And, examining ourselves and finding our deepest desire involves not impermanent emotions, but the most permanent underlying structure of our being- our true talent and purpose.  So, thinking of ourselves not at all and simultaneously thinking very deeply on the subject of ourselves yields the fruit of human existence- the thing or things each of us is created to do and be.  It is the result of listening to voices- first, those of our parents and families, then, those of friends, then teachers, employers, and eventually the collective voice of our society, and learning to choose which voices carry weight, which deceive, which impossibly demand, which do not demand enough, and then learning to listen to that voice inside which is able to speak audibly only after the others have been put to rest.  I think that even the best and most discerning can spend a lifetime learning to find and listen to that one true voice that speaks out of the quietness and through the din, telling us our calling and urging us toward the best.

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