The Lake of Life
Posted on March 6, 2021
Many of you have reached out to get the printed version of this short mindfulness story I wrote and shared in last week’s Mindfulness Meditation Monday. I’m humbled and grateful by your request. This fills my heart and nourishes my Soul.
Here it is…
There was once a distraught man named Joe who left his family, children, and business. He was fed up with his life! His wife was always critiquing him, his children always complaining, his employees always wanting more. According to them, he was never good enough, and he never did enough. He was done! He headed out aimlessly on foot and ended up at the local park—by the lake—on a lonely bench crying his eyes out.
A complete stranger placed his right hand on Joe’s shoulder to comfort him. With that small prompt, Joe shared his plight: “I’m miserable, unloved, and unappreciated. There is no peace of mind in the house or business that I built or with the family I created.”
This kind stranger, whose name was Mark, asked Joe if he would sit in silence with him, offering him a magic solution to his chaotic life.
“What am I supposed to do in silence?” Joe asked.
“Just hold my hand, and I will do the rest,” Mark answered.
They held hands with their eyes closed for ten minutes. Joe was surprised at how much better he felt.
“If you’d like, I can help you every day at 6 p.m., said Mark. “My only condition is that you have to go back home every day.”
“So who are you? Are you a priest?” asked Joe, thanking him.
“Oh, no, I’m a professor at the local school,” answered Mark, “and I come here every evening to help people like you.”
“Every day? Are there a lot of people like me?” gasped Joe.
“Of course! Everybody is like you – myself included,” said Mark.
On Day 2, at 6 p.m. Mark said, “Hold my hand, and let’s look at this beautiful lake, that twig, that flower petal…”
On Day 3, at 6 p.m. he said, “Hold my hand, and let’s notice the sounds, the water, the duck, the bird…”
On Day 4, at 6 p.m. he said, “Hold my hand, and let’s notice our breath…”
By Day 10, Joe was a whole different person. Professor Mark had healed him. Joe didn’t feel a pain in his chest or have daily headaches anymore. His family and business situation seemed more pleasant. Life simply had gotten better for Joe.
On Day 11, he went to the park, but Mark wasn’t there. So Joe sat on the bench, held his own hand, and hung out with himself.
On Day 12, he did the same thing. It was a habit now. He followed Mark’s prompts in his mind and listened to the sounds of his breath. Mark still hadn’t reappeared.
By Day 13, Joe started to worry. The next morning, bright and early, he rushed to the local school to inquire about Mark. “What an idiot I am! I don’t even know his last name,” Joe said to himself, “or have his number. What am I going to do without him? Only he knows how to help me!” Joe’s mind games had begun again.
Panicked, he went straight to the administrator’s office, where he found out that Mark had passed away in his sleep two days earlier. Joe threw himself on the floor and started weeping. When asked how he knew Professor Mark, Joe shared his story.
“Are you Joe? We found an envelope on his desk with your name on it,” said the administrator.
“Yes! That’s me!” answered Joe.
He grabbed the letter and ran to their favorite bench at the lake, weeping all the way. “How could God be so unfair,” Joe lamented. “Mark was my only friend.” When Joe finally gathered his courage to open the envelope, he found a note that read:
“There is not enough room in your mind for family problems, children’s issues, friends’ comments, or business catastrophes. These are not supposed to live in your mind. They all live in the lake.
“Your mind is your home and your only roommates should be the ones that God planted on your face by design—your eyes, your ears, your tongue, your nose. They are not there by accident. Keep exploring them every day at 6 p.m. and know that my hand is always in yours. At the lake, you are never alone.
If we keep exploring what we see, what we hear, how we speak, what we sense and smell, we can stay calmly connected to our homes—our bodies. Everything else lives outside of us, in the lake.
Mindfulness and meditation do not remove the debris from the lake of life. Don’t even try that; that’s a losing battle. The debris is part of the lake. But when we go for our daily swim in the lake of life, the practice of Mindfulness Meditation teaches us when and where to let the debris recede. It teaches us that when we are tired or feel caught up, it’s time to go home—to witness and enjoy the lake from its banks.
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