What makes you come alive?


We went down to the river several days ago and the only people still there, (it was almost 6 p.m.) were three young boys and their grandmother. She was standing on the bank watching them as they played. As we made our way to the water, they waved to us, (even though we didn’t know them) and asked questions about Luke (who seemed to be enjoying watching them too!). They left before we did, and as they were all piling into the car, this happy little group smiled and waved and yelled goodbye. We felt like we had been blessed.

Sometimes we think we think we need to be doing big, important, things to change ourselves (and be of service to the world) and yet just the simple act of smiling, saying hi, enjoying the moment, has such a positive impact on those around us.

These little boys had no idea that their fun afternoon made the world a better place.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

33 thoughts on “What makes you come alive?

  1. Mary – This is so true! I think young people especially have a way of making us smile with their enthusiasm and excitement about life in general. We adults can surely take a lesson from them.

    I hope it’s OK but I’d like to ask for prayers for my family during the upcoming week. We are about to start a 13 hour trek later today and will be moving our oldest daughter to TN to begin graduate school. Anna’s lived away from home before but never this far. We’re all excited about this opportunity but I have to admit to dreading the distance that will separate us. We have always been very close. Thank you for any positive energy you have to help mom “grow up”!

    • Pam, I know we will all keep you in our prayers for this big transition. I must warn you, however, that moms don’t ‘grow up.’ Moms just put their feelings on a shelf to be taken down again when life hands you grandchildren. The cycle never ends.

      Enjoy every feeling in every minute. These are what will be the stories within your memories. Many blessings go to you today.

    • Dear Pam, looks like another road trip for the flock this weekend. We’ll be pulling out our little red wagon and attaching it in spirit behind your car as you take your daughter to begin this wonderful new adventure in her life, you’ve got lots of support here! Growing up? You are growing WITH her. A favorite last line of a poem I love is “I will not soon, or ever!, have done becoming grown.” Blessings to your family! Susan

      • Hi Susan, I’m still hoping that someday the WFF flock will be able to find a way to have a get-together for a long weekend.

        You are right….it always feels like we are sitting around a big old table, relaxing and chatting, like friends who have known each other forever. How lovely is that!

      • That little red wagon certainly helped me last week-end on my trip to Lewisburg, PA. I’ll jump into the little red wagon for the trip to Tennessee, which I’ve driven through many times on my way south. Prayers and good energy to you, Pam, psychologically, it’s nice to know that others are there for you.
        SandyP in Canada

  2. Oh, yes! We really don’t have to do “big, important things” to make a difference in people’s lives. It really is the small, everyday things that can help lift people’s spirits and, thus, can change our culture, our world.
    Wonderful post, Mary!
    Whatever make me come alive, that’s what I need to go do! – Jan S

  3. The things that make me happiest are the beauty of just looking around outside and seeing what God has provided. The other day it was a tree full of Monarch Butterflies, what an awesome sight, so beautiful. I also enjoy watching my pets, cats, dog, birds and the fish and watch what they are up to, it just makes my day. I am one that doesn’t need big fancy items or diamonds to make my life full. After having a fire and losing our material things, most of them, and our pets two years ago it made me more aware to enjoy what is there to be seen, the simple things of life. It is all there to see, just open your eyes. We are so blessed when we can read a good book, the things that we can enjoy and so forth, that really don’t cost anything and so many of us just take these things for granted.

    • Ah, Lindy, you sure had a hard lesson. Your message here is a blessed reminder to all of us. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Lindy, I don’t know how I’d cope with that disaster except when something like that happens, you have a choice of looking at what you have left, not what you have lost. Loosing the pets, though, would be a very hard experience to deal with. As you say, the material things in the long run, don’t matter…but I would be grieving the loss of living things.
      SandyP in Canada

  4. Hi Mary – your smile and “Hi Mary Rita, how are you?” had a positive impact on my busy afternoon at the Cambridge Food Co-op yesterday. And Jack’s coming in for a cup of coffee and congratulating Katharine on passing her Teaching Certification #1 test was special too. Have a lovely weekend you two, and all in the WFF family.

      • Suzanne, I love your sweet comments to everyone as I read today – makes me feel like we’re almost sitting around a big kitchen table ourselves, sipping our morning teas and coffees and checking in with the flock! xoxo

  5. It is interesting that for so many people, there seems to be an expectation that we only wave at those we know. In our rural community, the practice is different. Driving down the road, we wave, at those we know and those we don’t, and the other drivers do likewise. It is intriguing that the waving has decreased to some degree as the population of the area has grown. Maybe a universal wave in a rural or suburban setting would remind us all that despite the fact that we are rolling down the road insulated from others in our metal bubbles, we are really all connected. It warms my heart to be the recipient of the waves, and I hope it does the same for those to whom I wave.

  6. Yes! Happy people, connections, exchanging a smile, laughing really hard, a warm hug from, well, from anyone, a happy sing along song (like from the Greatest American Hero!), a warm memory, taking in nature’s miracles, exploring a new road or place, eating something really really good, a long walk, an autumn day, the scent of Christmastime, a shooting star, my husband reaching for my hand, all make me come alive and feel deep gratitude! And so does quiet time, being immersed in a book on the back porch…perhaps feeling ‘alive’ is an attitude too! Thanks Mary…the great conversation among WFF friends, makes me feel alive too! It is at the top of the list of my very favorite things!

  7. It is because of your blog, Mary, and the responses from the Flock, that I have made it an ingrained habit to look for the beauty in every moment, no matter where I am. I was never able to do this consistently in the past. Now I notice the small and tender mercies available to me every day.

    And Eleanor……oh, Eleanor. She’s getting more beautiful every day. Love that puss-face!

    Happy weekend to everyone.

  8. Mary, your beautiful post! and including one of my all time favorite theologians, Howard Thurman. Before I responded to Pam about her daughter’s going off to college and “growing up” I had already planned to share this poem of Howard Thurman, all about the growing edge. And what Suzanne just said about this blog and the wonderful company we keep here which encourages us to look to that ‘growing edge’, even in the midst of a hard day or troubling events going on in our life, – it really works to keep that inner flame alive. May not always be blazing, but the consistency of looking for beauty will surely keep it glowing.

    The Growing Edge, by Howard Thurman

    All around worlds are dying out, new worlds are being born. All around us life is dying and life is being born:
    The fruit ripens on the tree; The roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth
    Against the time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit.
    Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, The one more thing to try when all else has failed,
    The upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This basis of hope in moments of despair,
    The incentive to carry on when times are out of joint And [people] have lost their reason; the source of confidence
    When worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of a child – life’s most dramatic answer to death –
    This the Growing Edge incarnate, Look well to the growing edge!
    (Howard Thurman, from The Mood of Christmas, page 23)

  9. Hello Mary, I love this post. A child’s laugh lifts my spirit and most times I have to laugh along. I believe we all have to remember that today may be the only day you will ever have the chance to interact with a particular person. A smile or a kind word goes a long way. It’s made my day quite a few times.

    Howard Thurman’s timely quote “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” resounds in my heart. This morning I made the mistake of reading an email with snarky political comments and Thurman’s quote is a balm to the soul and makes our path clear. The political sniping gets to me.

    I thank you so much for the joy of your blog and the responses! Peace to all.

  10. How could I forgot to mention Eleanor? She’s some dishy cat! :0) Her “twin” lives at my house and her name is Punkin who is being driven to a psychotic break by our naughty little kitten, Lucy.

    I’m told that Tortoiseshell cats are all females. Also, it’s rumored that all Torties want to be the only cat in the house.

  11. Mary, not everyone would have the sensitivity to pick up on what you did, the joyfulness of the children and grandmother by the river having fun. It must have been a happy tableau to come upon as you drove down to the river. When I moved from the city to the country 24 years ago people asked: “what do you do in the country?” and I could hardly tell them that experiences like you’ve had Mary, as I’ve had, in the simplicity of living without constant hustle & bustle and noise and busyness of social activities, allows me to see the quieter, more simpler things in life and that which can bring quiet reflection and calming to the mind.
    SandyP in Canada

  12. This post is really catching fire today Mary! First cloudy day in forever in the desert here in AZ so I not so wisely decided I could walk for an hour, 95 degrees at 11 .m. Phwew! Think I will wait on outdoor walks for awhile (we walk our dogs at 5 a.m., big diff!) But had I not gone on my walk, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of thinking of all of you, and Mary’s little kids’ smiles at the river yesterday – because I was on my way home when a bicyclist came roaring down the path – I veered off to let him pass, and he gave me the biggest! smile and a Good Morning and it felt like such a sweet gift. He was soon out of sight but left me the better for having braved the heat. The best things in life are free. . And then on The Tiny Buddha offering today was this quote which dovetails perfectly with our Friday lesson 🙂 Smiles to all!

    “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” ~Oscar Wilde

  13. I think everyone was moved by your words today Mary. How nice that the simple act of waving hello and being friendly could make such an impact…how simple and yet how hard for many to do. I used to say my Dad never knew a stranger and I have that trait too…I like to think that is one of my gifts. I hope we will all remember to smile to all we meet this weekend and spread a little happiness wherever we go. Hugs to all xoxo

  14. Oh Eleanor is a beauty! She looks very mysterious to me.
    Thanks for the heartwarming post Mary. &:-)

  15. The sweet toothy smile from the baby in the grocery cart made my day today. It is the little things that make our hearts rejoice and be glad.

  16. I am new here… have been reading the blog for awhile… I tried an experiment on vacation in California last week. I made a point to try to smile at everyone I met and EVERYONE smiled back at me EVERYONE !!! It was remarkable. Now that I am back home I am going to continue my smile-fest

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