We Are Not in Charge, But We Can Make a Difference

We Are Not in Charge, But We Can Make a Difference

I read newspapers and magazines and online articles. I’m constantly soaking up information and feel fortunate that I have the time to educate myself, to evaluate what I read and how I feel about what is happening in the world. Words are powerful. But it’s absolutely true: a picture is worth a thousand words. 


Recently, I saw the above photo–two fathers carrying their infants in their arms. Compelling, love abounding in this TIME MAGAZINE photograph, despite the rubble, the destroyed street somewhere in Aleppo in Syria. The photo pulls me in. Photos do that. But after reading and looking, I turned the page. I could do that. I could look away. But this particular photo stayed with me. So I am writing about it–the thoughts it engenders.


Autumn is coming, winter is coming. Here in the United States streets are not bombed into rubble, but there are floods and tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes that destroy.

I love living on this earth, but part of being here means struggle–for some it is all consuming, for others they are hardly touched. For some of you reading this right now: a loved one is ill, a friend recently died, an adult child is out of work or—-you just got a huge raise, purchased tickets to tour the world, bought a boat. I don’t know–these are random thoughts. But life is random. Like the song says, one day you’re up and the next day you’re down.


So what are the constants: the earth turning on its axis, the change in seasons, birth, death, aging. They are always with us. AND SO IS WISDOM–the thoughts and ideas that are ours and others reaching out and providing us with BELIEF in what we can do, LOVE for what we have done and HOPE in the days to come.

I am certain, that if the fathers in the photo were asked what we could do to help them, outside of insuring peace in that warring country, they would have asked for food. Maybe they would have gone beyond that and asked for a small plot of land outside the terror of the bombs, a place to plant for food and maybe create a shelter so that they could maintain their families away from the chaos. That’s whittling down life to the bare essentials. That’s putting the seed in the ground to discover hope for the future. But that is what it means to be human.

So I come back again to the change of seasons, to the coming of autumn and winter–which ironically will not touch me as much as it did when I lived in the Midwest. Then I enjoyed putting the garden to bed, making sure the outside spigots wouldn’t freeze and that I had shovels for the snow and good tires on my car. Now I pray for winter rains in the drought that is California. But nature always gives you something. So we humans evaluate and try to prepare.

WISDOM: Frost reminds us that we’re not in charge, after all.  How do we let go?  Laugh at our failures, but don’t repeat them…Observe. Learn. Let go.

These are the words of Jane McKeon and she is writing about gardening, but her words mean more. We all experience life changes that affect our physical and spiritual health. Sometimes we are happy for these changes, other times we pray that they will soon end. In the latter case we can clench our teeth, let our back muscles grip in pain, lash out at those around us, or we can let go. It’s challenging, but such times call for examining our failures, discovering what might have contributed to them, and trying not to repeat them.

There will be frost—we are not in charge. And snow and drought and tornadoes etc. But we can live happier, better lives if we find something about change that strengthens us. A broken arm, painful and inconvenient, is not life threatening. It can create a lasting appreciation for that body part, and for the people who do the littlest thing to help us weather that cycle. Just as the relationships formed with strangers during a crisis changes how people feel about those very strangers.

On a different note, it’s totally challenging to find anything good in a job loss. That’s a change that requires we all remember: attitude is everything and stress can tear a family apart or ruin a person’s health. In such a time of struggle, for our own health and the health of our families, we have to let go and let others help us. And of course we have to help ourselves: observe, learn, not repeat our failures. That’s how we will weather such a season. It’s a cumulative process, one we will get better at as we live.


Jane’s words are words of wisdom. For your own spiritual and physical health, accept the flow of the seasons in your life. Weather the springs and autumns and you’ll be ready for the winters when they come. Let Go, Let God –or whatever god or spiritual practice you believe in. After frost and snow comes spring. And when you can: be grateful and reach out to others. Little by little we can draw closer to one another. We can make a difference.

Photo Credit: www.haaretz.com Photo taken by Ameer Alhalbi AFP/Getty Images

10 thoughts on “We Are Not in Charge, But We Can Make a Difference

  1. You had me at your headline: We are not in charge. That applies to world events and to our relationship with our adult children. All we can control is our own actions and remembering to use them for good in this world.

    • Thanks, so much. I totally agree. And when we are thoughtful and evaluate our own actions, we contribute to the general good–and to our relationships with our adult children.

    • Oh you are so right, Haralee. And I’ve been watching episodes on Sixty Minutes about our nuclear arsenal. We could destroy the planet. Be well, Beth

  2. Hi Beth! This is a lovely post that addresses the ups and downs in life in such a positive way. It’s so true that stuff happens, life happens, frost happens–but through it all I still have faith that we can choose to see the good. Easy? No, especially when you are running through the rubble clutching your baby! But even then is the fundamental belief that good will prevail. Is it true? I hope and pray that it is…but even if I’m wrong, living each day as though it is, brings me peace, acceptance and hope. Far, far better than the opposite. Thank you as always for the reminder. ~Kathy

    • Kathy, big hug coming your way. Deep in our lives we believe in awakening each day to positive thoughts and actions. Sometimes it’s a real challenge, but that’s why we are here. To make that difference no matter how big or small. I know you are doing that. Beth

  3. Acceptance for what is–it’s probably the hardest lesson to learn in this life. And hope, thankfully, is something that’s pretty hard to lose. Thank you for another thoughtful and thought-provoking post, Beth.

    • Hi Roxanne,

      I never want the word HOPE to become a cliche, because it drives a lot of my life–and I’ve been okay with acceptance too. I pray that whatever the future brings, I can still be able to accept. Have a great week. Beth

  4. If midlife has taught me nothing else, it’s that everything in this life is, indeed, “for a season.” God never leaves us in one too long, or whisks us through another too quickly. He appoints each season for a time, and a purpose. It’s our “job” to pay attention to where we are right now, live that season to the fullest, and take what we learn with us as we move on.

    • Thanks, Kimberly. I love your faith and your viewpoint. I will hold it close. Sometimes I’m too caught up in the moment. LET IT GO, and LET GOD. Beth

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