“Magic Man” is what I call him. Because in my life he has been magic, a gift of grace, a real friend and someone who loves and lives life to the fullest. He is always saying, “There’s more going on than we realize. So, pay attention. We’re part of a beautiful ride called life and you don’t want to miss a moment of the trip.” He’s my friend, the one and only Howard Hanger, musician, preacher, singer, leader of ritual. Founder of Jubilee! — that wild and refreshingly different community of faith. Founder of a school for girls. Total boss of Hanger Hall, a cooperative where about 20 people live under the same roof. Lover of good whiskey and blond headed women. Lover of waterfalls and the Florida Keys. Good cook, too.
Last week everything came to a halt for my Magic Man. A stoke, a pretty major stroke, has landed him in a rehab hospital in Asheville where he is working to regain the use of his right arm and leg and get his speech to match the synapses firing in his brain. News of Howard’s health problems came as a kick in the gut. We cried when we heard that he had been brought low. Now we wait and pray and hope for progress in recovery. I will see him the end of this month.
There are events that happen in every life that force you to take stock, do some internal recalibrating, make you face the big questions like: What am I doing with my life? Where am I going? What do I want to do? Events that bring a resolve to live every day, to not put things off, to notice more, to love more. To take better care of your health. Events that make you look at things differently. Howard’s illness has been such a moment for me.
So, I would like offer some words on living. On living in the NOW. On not putting things off until you “have more time, or money, or knowledge.” To live NOW, fully and completely, and most importantly, with happiness. The only life you are ever going to have is the life you are living right now. The only place you can live is where you are right now. So how about it? Do you enjoy your life? If so, good for you. If not, what changes can you make that will dial up the pleasure meter to a higher level? It seems to me that this is what really matters, what really only matters. Here are my suggestions. Most do not need an explanation. They speak for themselves…
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Every day is a gift.
- Maybe is better than certainty
- Love is truly a miracle drug.
- Compassion is what tenderizes life
- Life is not perfect and there are going to be challenges.
- Grace (and forgiveness) is better than keeping score.
- Every journey begins with the first step.
- Today is the first day of the rest of your life
- Seven things to say frequently: I love you. Thank you. Thank you, Holy One. Forgive me. I’m so happy for you! Why not? Yes.
When news of Howard’s illness reached us, I was upset. Very upset. And then I began to get in touch with all that he has meant to me. I wrote out these 10 affirmations in celebration for his friendship and our relationship. My heart bubbles over with thankfulness. He has been a good friend, an important mentor and a gift of grace. He is a man sent from God.