It’s a terrible feeling – the sense that your life is passing you by, the awareness that your unique self has not come forth. How does it happen? And what countermeasures can you take?
We forfeit life by denying the spirit that is within us. We throw away everything when we don’t join the parade because we are too busy, too tired, or too jaded. The unlived life is one we have squandered by passivity, by only trying to prove ourselves to others, or by only seeking to fulfill societal expectations.
In contrast to all this, there is the passionate life. Practice zeal and embrace all that comes your way with an open and full heart.
ZEAL: The practice of zeal means being fully aroused by life. We are ready for anything that comes our way, and every moment is a golden gateway to new possibilities. Zeal is a zest for living that includes a wholehearted delight in the senses and a passionate love for who we are and what we have been given. Zeal is the essence of the meaningful life.
Zeal means living abundantly, and we are more likely to do so when we can pay attention, live in the present, have gratitude, and experience wonder. Zeal is an energetic and committed response to opportunities and challenges that come our way.
Zorba the Greek is the best book about zeal. A blocked English writer is traveling to Crete to become “the Boss” and take over an abandoned mine owned by his father. He meets the itinerant Zorba while waiting for a boat to the island. This adventurer convinces the writer to take him along to oversee the reconstruction of the mine.
Whereas the Boss passively reacts to life, Zorba zestfully lives every day to its fullest. He tackles his work with enthusiasm and laughs at his blunders. While the Boss hesitates in visiting an attractive widow who shows an interest in him, Zorba immediately plunges into an intimate relationship with a dying French courtesan who owns the hotel in the poverty-stricken town.
Zorba’s passion for life often leads him into folly, but he doesn’t care, because his heart is always in the right place. And when it is time to square off against death and the craziness of a full catastrophe, there is only one thing to do – dance. As Zorba tells the Boss, a man needs a little madness to be free.
Start your day with the affirmation “I am vibrantly alive!” Say it enough times so that it sinks into your consciousness and seeps into your body. Whenever your energy feels depleted during the day, repeat the affirmation. In the last hours of the evening, let your “I am vibrantly alive” extend outward to support others in your thoughts.
In the classical musical Fiddler on the Roof, one of the most buoyant and rousing numbers is “To Life.” At a local inn in a small Russian town, a group of hardworking Jews sing: “God would like us to be joyful even when our hearts lie panting on the floor.” A wedding is on the horizon and so in great conviviality they exchange toasts. The magic moment comes when they conclude: “And if our good fortune never comes, here’s to whatever comes!” That is the heart and soul of the practice of zeal. Drink deep and experience the passion of truly being alive no matter what happens.
By Bob Mueller
Bob Mueller is the Bishop of the United Catholic Church, bobmueller.org
geraldine williams says
Thank you for the message of encouragement. May God continual to bless and keep you.