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Re-imagining Purpose


Things have shifted since my last blog post almost ten months ago. I have shifted with them, even as I tried to stay solidly rooted in my normal routine and perspective. Don’t get me wrong; the pragmatic optimist remains, but there’s a greater sense of urgency of purpose and acceptance that things, as I knew them all of my life, will never be the same again. That was a process, and there are days that I still grieve what was, but things are better now, and I also stop and give thanks for what is and will be. I have rediscovered and refined my understanding of the depth of “purpose.”


Seven years ago, as I sat by my mother’s bedside and watched her die a slow and painful death. At her bedside, I learned some of my most profound life lessons. Through her pain, she would emerge from her spasms or her state of semi-consciousness and be the woman that I have always known her to be. Strong, full of faith, wise beyond her years and full of love. She was a woman on a mission, with the purpose to fill me with all of the advice that I might need for the second half of my life’s journey, knowing that she would not be there to guide me. Even at forty-three, I did not want to say good-bye to my mom. I could have been nine, and during that time, I felt as if I was. Here I was, watching this woman that I loved, respected, and admired, saying goodbye and leaving me way too soon. Her sense of urgency of purpose was coming to a close as she came to terms with the fact that she had lived most of her purpose, and now was the time to wind down the clock.


I don’t know if she knew that her purpose would continue after her death. I didn’t realize it at the time and only recently come to understand that my mother’s life is still impacting the lives of others around her, seven years after her death. The seeds of faith, love, and good deeds that were sewn, are still bearing fruit. As a gardener, the best way I can explain this is that the flower that was my mom was not an annual. My mom was a perennial, and every season, a piece of her blooms to shed beauty in this world.


This gives me hope because it helps me accept the changes and the shifting that is beyond my control. It helps me know that living a life of purpose is simply showing up for life and suiting up for the day that I have been gifted to have. These days there’s been much loss, and many have not received the daily gift of life. My heart broke for friends who lost loved ones, and they didn’t have the gift of being able to sit by their relative or friend’s side and comfort them as they took their last breath. If you’ve lost someone, my heart is pained for you too. I am sorry. Grief takes time, so don’t rush your process. At some point in your grieving experience or when you emerge out of it, I hope that you will find that you, too, were blessed to know a perennial. I hope too that you will continue to, or give more thought to, living a life that will bless others while you are here and long after you leave this earth. I don’t know if the shifting of this world has ended or not. What I do know is that those of us who have survived have a choice to make each day we awaken. The choice I will make is to not live inside my head, in a place of fear, sadness, despair, and self-pity. Instead, I will live with purpose. I will suit up, show up, and sew a seed that will bless someone, anyone, long after I am gone.

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©2018 by Dr. Shai Butler