1517) The Mind Is Its Own Place

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     Elizabeth was a 92-year-old, petite, well-poised, and proud lady.  She and her husband managed to live all seventy years of their married life in their own home, though in the last several years they had to depend much on each other.  When Elizabeth’s husband died, she knew she would have to move into a care center.  

     Her son brought her to the nursing home, but he had to leave before his mother’s room was ready.  Because of some mistake by the staff, Elizabeth waited for over two hours in the lobby before she could move in.  Still, she smiled sweetly when the admissions director finally called her name.  As Elizabeth maneuvered her walker to the elevator, the director provided a visual description of her small, simple room.  There wasn’t much to describe.

     “I love it,” Elizabeth said with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

     “Mrs. Jones, you haven’t even seen the room yet.  Maybe you should wait…”

     “I don’t have to see it,” Elizabeth interrupted.  “I know it will be just fine, and that I will be very happy there.  Happiness, after all,  is something you decide on ahead of time.  Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how big the room is, or how fancy, or how the furniture is arranged.  It depends on how I arrange my mind.”

     Elizabeth paused, and then went on to say, “I have already decided to love it.  This is like the decision I make every morning when I wake up.  I always have a choice.  I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or, I can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.  Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day.  And if I have nothing else to do, I will think about all the happy memories I have stored away for just this time in my life.”

–author unknown

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“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, or a Hell of Heaven.”

–John Milton, English poet, blind for the last 22 years of his life, (1608-1674), from  Paradise Lost, Book I.

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Philippians 4:10-14  —  I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.  Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

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This is another day, O Lord; I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.  Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus.  Amen.

–Book of Common Prayer

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