Just for Today

The month of August is in the thick of summer. And August seems to be a ripe month for “projects.”

Friends in my life, folks in my neighborhood and members in the church seem to be in the thick of “projects.” Their projects are vast and varied: erecting a playground set for children, refurbishing a bathroom, reclaiming a vegetable garden, down-sizing from one house and moving into another (and smaller) house.

All these “projects” are about change and about improving life.

During this summer, I have made myself my “project.” I have external and internal “projects” that need my time, my energy and my attention. My personal “project” is also about change and about improving life. One of my self-chosen “project” requirements this summer is reading a book or books that have the potential to change and improve my heart, my mind, my body and my spirit. One book that I consult regularly, Holy Scripture, has the potential to change and improve our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our spirits. The apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, declares:

All of us, with unveiled faces,
seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror,
are being changed into the same image of God
from one degree of glory to another;
for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
[Emphasis mine] 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Reading Holy Scripture allows for the possibility of the Spirit to change and improve our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our spirits. Through the weekly exercise of preparing a sermon, I habitually “work” with Holy Scripture. Habitually, Holy Scripture “works on” me…and changes me.

Recently, another book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, written by Dale Carnegie, presented me a smorgasbord of possible life changes that have led to some significant life improvements. I am convinced that the Spirit speaks through other texts–even self-help texts–to enable change to happen within our lives and to transform our lives.

One of the more provocative lists of life changes and, thus, of life improvements that Carnegie cites in his book is a prose piece, entitled “Just for Today.” The words were first written in 1916 by a Catholic nun, whose birth name was Sibyl F. Partridge. Serving in a religious order of nuns in England, Sibyl requested that authorship of her poem be listed as “Anonymous” until her death in 1920.

Just for Today

1. Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.

2. Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.

3. Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.

4. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

5. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do, as William James suggests, “just for exercise.”

6. Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.

7. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

8. Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests: hurry and indecision.

9. Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax. In this half hour, I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.

10. Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.

Sybil Partridge’s list has become a daily “project” for me.

May Sybil’s words change and improve your life, if only…just for today.

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara