The past week brought with it typical late August weather, full of hazy skies, humidity, pop-up rain showers, and misty mornings. Watching the sun break through the clouds at dawn casting visible light rays made me feel as if I was watching blessings unfold into the day. The experience was very moving, touching me deeply, allowing me to forge ahead despite some difficulties encountered during the week.
Motivation Through the Movements
As I watched the light sweep across the skies each morning, I recalled a quote I read recently:
“What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.” – Bertrand Russell
This quote captured my attention because it is by Bertrand Russell, a British logician and philosopher whom I studied in several classes while pursuing a degree in Mathematics. Russell is most remembered for his contributions regarding logic and applications of this logic to mathematics. His work regarding contradictions and paradoxes led him to change his approach to thinking and solving problems. He later turned away from mathematics to concentrate on philosophy and write about social, political, and moral subjects.
Russell’s approach to life and his work revolved much around his faith, not only from a spiritual perspective, but also from a physical perspective. What he saw happening around him sparked questions, deep thought, and at times, perplexing problems that consumed him. Never one to stop seeking, Russell trudged through the difficulties with admirable vigor. Though he changed his thought process and beliefs several times as an attempt to deal with internal angst, Russell remained motivated and active until his death in 1970.
While contemplating Russell’s quote and his life, I realized he could be considered a modern model of many Biblical characters, all of whom struggled with faith, their part in God’s plan, and the circumstances they faced. For example, the book of Exodus tells the story of Moses, his call by God, and the struggles he had trying to get the people to obey God. The books I and II Kings (also knows as I and II Samuel) tell the story of David, chosen to lead the people, yet destined to struggle with himself and his faith in God. In the Acts of the Apostles, we learn of Saul’s conversion, his visions, and his name change to Paul. Later, in Paul’s many letters to the church community, we learn of his struggles with faith, God’s call to him, and the issues presented to him by the people to whom he was writing.
Like Russell, the biblical characters faced paradoxes and struggled with their inner beings to find peace and ways to move forward. The faith these people had was at times, their motivation and strength. It was also a burden to explain and a point of contention with others. In the end, the truth led these biblical characters to their destinations.
Like the people above, summer also has its paradoxes, struggles, and fits of change. Summer rises from spring to its apex of light then gives in to time’s ways with the coming of fall. While we are still well within the throes of summer in my area, little hints in nature are slowly pulling nature toward fall. The browning teasels in the fields, spent blossoms on a number of wild flowers, ripening fruit and vegetables on the trees and plants, and obvious loss of daylight all point toward fall. However, the bright, blue skies, warmer temperatures, and hazy mornings of dewy grass all say it is still summer.
As I see these changes around me, I also struggle with altering schedules so I can still run, bike, walk, get chores done, and do other required tasks. Fortunately, I have learned to experiment a bit and have become more flexible with my thought process. The years have taught me that if I can’t do something in the morning hours due to lack of light, then I need to do the activity as soon as I come home from work or sometime before sunset. If the task is something that requires natural daylight, then I need to prioritize it so it gets done. However, if the task is one I can do with the outside lights on or inside, then I can move it to a different time slot. It is all about learning, reacting, and growing.
Faith’s Many Facets
I admit it has taken me a number of years of struggle to reach a healthier perspective on summer, the seasons of life, and the inner soul. Perhaps the following quotes offer the best insight and description of what I have endured in order to stay motivated and keep faith intact:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –Thomas Edison
“Mistakes are part of dues one pays for a full life.” –Sophia Loren
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“What does not destroy me makes me stronger.” – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” –Theodore Roosevelt
All of the above philosophies support faith in different aspects. Yet each of these philosophies entails a truth that makes one ponder or stop to consider the paths within the journey. While we all have different physical, mental, and spiritual motivations, the common thread is a faith of some sort based upon a truth which we may or may not understand or agree.
Faith is indeed a motivator, mentor, and mediator. It is a compass, companion, and confidant that shows us the way through life, time, and all the little details we encounter along the way.
May faith lead us through the paradoxes and seasons of life, allowing us to learn and grow in our own time. May we find motivation in faith’s ways, even when we struggle to understand, and may summer’s fields offer both enlightenment and encouragement for the soul.
Summer in the Fields
Summer in the fields, beneath the sun’s light,
All the glory revealed in the ray s that find
Every shadow, nook, and cranny
That envelope the ever many
Wonders of the world in nature’s arms
As the days unfold and time departs
Upon the journey along the shores
Where summer’s song is sung once more.
Summer in the fields, ever so fine
Full of crops that yield strength for the soul inside,
As well as beauty in the petals and the blades
Of tall iron weed, goldenrod, and Queen Ann’s lace,
Jewel weed, teasels, alfalfa, and clover
Dipping and swaying as the breeze skims over
Creating wave upon wave of color and texture
Guiding the soul through each day’s adventures.
Summer in the fields, under nature’s grasp
Left to methodically reveal the blessings cast
From the heavens to earth below
In both sun and rain, and the moon and stars’ glow,
Creating pockets of peace in the ever-changing world
As the water running to the seas foams and swirls
Around and around and around again
Through both silence’s sound and the refrains under heaven
Singing summer’s song in the morning and the night
As time moves on and the lost soul finds
What it is seeking and even more
Through living and being upon time’s shores.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
References and Related Links
Bertrand Russell – https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bertrand-Russell
Book of Exodus – http://www.usccb.org/bible/exodus/0
Conversion of Saul – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%209%3A1-19