Fred and I are on vacation in the Okanagan. After we visited my parents in Vernon, we found a campsite north of Oliver. My first bike ride was on the spectacular Okanagan Rail Trail which is flanked by steep rock faces on one side and Kalamalka Lake on the other. “The CN Rail line was constructed in 1925 to bring the produce and lumber of the Okanagan Valley to markets across the country. Challenged with high costs and low revenues, Kelowna Pacific Railway entered receivership and ceased rail service in July 2013 (website).” The Rail Trail was made possible by the impermanence of the rail line.
Summer comes because of the impermanence of spring, and winter from the impermanence of autumn. Whatever I experience–whether I love it or hate it–this too shall pass.
We say, “Nothing lasts forever.” Yet, I’m surprised when the radiator leaks or I break a tooth. I don’t want to believe that nothing lasts forever when times are good, my loved ones are settled, and my favourite foods are on the table.
But, as Anthony de Mello says in his little book, The Way to Love, we’re rarely at ease because we’re either trying to get things we think will make us happy, or we fear losing what we enjoy. De Mello reminded me that these impermanent things may give us pleasure, but they can’t make us happy.
The failure to recognize the impermanence of things makes me fear death, illness, and change. Every job, every relationship, every hope or dream will eventually end. Two questions I’ve been walking with are: What is in my cave that I’m afraid of, and how might God be wanting to meet me there and turn my fear into courage? God does not alleviate my fears by telling me I won’t lose my life, my loved ones, or my health, but by telling me I will, and that it’ll be okay.
When I told a kid who has autism that I too may be on the autism spectrum, he had this piece of advice for me. “Expect things to change.”
Expect change. Expect things to quit working. Expect them to end.
His wisdom brings me some peace when something goes wrong or when I catch myself hoping life will continue on as it is when I see how well my parents are doing at 87 and 92.
I suppose the impermanence of things could compel me to make sure I get the most out of every moment I have. But that feels like trading one compulsion for another.
It’s enough for me to remember when I’m faced with disappointment or enjoying a spectacular view that this too shall pass. Happiness is not found in holding onto what brings me joy. Happiness is knowing we are in Love and always will be.
For everything, there is a season.
–Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)
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Fred found Let’s Go Biking: Okanagan & Beyond by Colleen MacDonald in Oliver’s Visitors’ Centre. It showed us a way to avoid the hills on the west side of Skaha Lake and will be instrumental when my sibs come west for our next biking vacation. MacDonald is the author of the popular biking blog Let’s Go Biking and the guidebook Let’s Go Biking Around Vancouver. She has cycled all over the world and still thinks British Columbia is one of the best places to cycle. (from letsgobiking.net)