By: Vince DiPasquale
Welcome to the month of June, the beginning of summer. It’s a time to relax, sit back and reflect on our lives. As I look back on my own life, I am grateful to so many people who have touched my life and made a difference. It began back in the forties. My mom and dad, with all their struggles, taught me to look at life using the major principle: “Love of God is seeing God’s creation in each person we meet.” All of us are different, but if we have an open mind, we can all learn from each other. My dad was an immigrant who was poor and treated badly by others. He always taught me to respect all people regardless of race, color, beliefs, or background. Each person is a teacher in my life. I am grateful for those mentors. They have taught me to treat all people with respect and honor.
Some of my greatest teachers were my brothers and sisters who struggled to make it. The poor and those who we consider less fortunate taught me the gift of humility. My supervisor and mentor when I trained to be a counselor was a special and very spiritual man named Jack Roak. May God bless his soul. My first assignment was to give street people baths and clean lice off them. Jack taught me to treat them with respect and honor. Each one of them was a teacher in my life. I am grateful to each hurting person I meet because they help me to remember my faults and hurts.
The years I spent as a prison chaplain and working in an inner-city parish taught me the gift of gratitude and never to forget this phrase: “There but for the grace of God I go.” Gratitude teaches me never to take anything for granted- The people I shared my life with were real. Even today, I am grateful to God to be able to be touched each day by people who know their imperfections and have the courage to work on them.
Another great teacher in my life was a great man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I had the privilege to participate in the Poor People’s March in Washington, D.C. one year. This was a day when people from all walks of life came together as a family. Rich and poor, black, white, and Hispanic. All areas came together as a community to show us that if we work together, we can accomplish so much. Each person in this world is valuable because we are all God’s creation, and we are all equal. A beautiful tradition from AA states, “There is only one ultimate authority, a Higher Power; the rest of us are simply servants.” We should all have the humility to serve and help each other.
In reflecting on my journey, there have been many teachers and messengers who had the courage to reach out to all of us. Sometimes, we don’t realize that nothing happens by accident. Each person or situation that touches our lives is where we are supposed to be at that moment. Things happen in life so that we can all learn positive lessons about ourselves. Hopefully, we can have an open mind to each situation. The secret to all personal growth is acceptance and openness. One of my favorite prayers is the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” We need inner peace to live in the reality of life and to accept the fact that we cannot change anyone else. “… the courage to know the difference.” The only person I can work on is myself. Take the time to invest in yourself and you won’t have time to look at someone else’s issues. Working on yourself takes a lot of courage. It’s a full-time job. Finally, “… the wisdom to know the difference.” Use common sense, the gift of wisdom. The wise person knows when to speak and when to be quiet. In short, if you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything at all.
As we reflect on our lives, we should always be open to the process of growing and learning. We are a work in progress. Look at life with possibilities and you will be able to see the good in all.
Say this prayer daily, and you will feel the gift of inner peace. I call it the prayer of acceptance.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.