The gift of perspective is sometimes forgotten

Let the Busy World Be Hushed

I joined a queue in a shop in Enniskillen one Friday evening past to pay for items at a cash register, only to notice some commotion at the top of the queue between a customer and the girl at the cash desk. It seemed as if the date had run out to receive money back on the unwanted item that the customer wished to return and, as a result, they felt very much aggrieved when the girl confirmed for them, having consulted her manager, that she couldn’t give a refund.

The customer couldn’t accept this and derided the girl behind the counter in loud tones. The customer continued until the person behind them in the queue asked for them to desist and, reluctantly, they stuffed their belongings back into a bag and stormed off through the aisles of the shop.

I had just travelled from the funeral of a little girl, a most beautiful, bright, intelligent little girl who at just six years of age had lost her battle to cancer. It was a most shattering experience to witness the heartbreak of her young parents and her grandparents gathered in the little church on that bright spring afternoon, to listen to her mother speak of the beautiful qualities of her little daughter who was wise beyond her years and could appreciate at such a young age the gift that life was to her as she walked in the midst of trees beneath the ruins of a castle and along the river bank and could articulate her appreciation for the beauty of the place in which she dwelt.

The silence of her classmates who stood in guard of honour, the tolling of the bell, the tears that fell heavily as her father listened on, his arm round his son, holding her little teddy bear would break a heart of stone in two as we, who gathered, stood helplessly on, without a word to say, no comfort to give, inadequate, as the white coffin was carried aloft through the graveyard.

I could walk away and distract myself in the midst of people along a shopping street but not so for her parents or her brother as they returned to the emptiness of their loss. The only thought that crossed my mind in that queue for the cash desk as I listened to the tirade of anger from the customer, and thought on all I had witnessed in the hours previous, was that ‘you have little to worry you’ in comparison to that which others are forced to carry.

The gift of perspective is sometimes forgotten as we journey through the ordinariness of our lives, the perspective to be able to see that which is really important from all that which is trivial and insignificant.

It is only when we are reminded, when we come face to face with sickness or death, that all else pales into insignificance, failing to see the wood for the trees as we get caught up at times in the stresses of the everyday.

I notice more and more, the aggressiveness of society, the lack of patience, the dearth of manners and courtesy, the crossing of boundaries as people demand instant recourse or satisfaction. The hurtful things we say to and about each other, the verbal violence that we inflict, the hurt caused by the tone and the words we use.

All in contrast to the beautiful little girl who had such an appreciation for all that is exquisitely ordinary in this world.

We indeed have little to worry us, though we get caught up in the fleeting and the ephemeral nature of this constant moving world in which we live; no time stop, to breathe, to look around, allowing ourselves to be dragged down, albeit momentarily, into the mire of existing; demanding, shouting, hurting, indulging the self, where we fail to look around, to put all things into perspective.

When confronted with heartache and sickness we are reminded that we have little to worry us and much to be thankful for; health and wholeness, friends and family who enrich our lives just by their presence with us.

We all, I included, get drawn back into the minutiae of living, despite the constant reminders to look beyond, to see the good and the beauty in everything and everyone as with a little child, to search out how I can convey light and goodness to the ordinary of people’s lives.

Perhaps in this Lenten season, in the weeks that remain, we can commit ourselves anew, each and all, to be bringers of light to the moments of our everyday, to keep before us a perspective on living, for in the grand scale of things there are but a few things to worry us and much to be thankful for.


Prune those bad habits during Lent to replenish the soul