There is a story Sue Bender relates in her book “Everyday Sacred” of a monk who, each morning, takes his empty begging bowl in his hands and stands in the flow of crowds in the city. Whatever is put in the bowl that day—money, rice, a bit of fruit—he uses for his nourishment. Each morning he begins again with an empty bowl, and each day he finds that he receives enough to live.
Each morning we are blessed with a new day. A new beginning. Whatever we did the day before, whatever decisions we made, are done. Finished. Can not be taken back.
But each new day provides the opportunity to do something new. To change the direction that we might have chosen yesterday. To act differently, to look at a problem with a new perspective, to seek advice. To begin again.
What a gift!
Do you berate yourself continually for past decisions? Do you miss the present because you’re focused on the past? Can you not look at today with fresh eyes because of the past? Do you sit in judgment on yourself? If so, remind yourself of the empty bowl and the possibilities.
Move on. Move forward. Look back only to seek clues for how to move ahead today.
Nothing is set in stone.
For each morning, you have an empty bowl.
Your Own Empty Bowl
Find a bowl in your house—any bowl. Something that reflects how you feel about yourself. If you love to bake, perhaps a mixing bowl; if you cherish fine china, a piece from your favorite pattern. A plastic cereal bowl. Place the bowl where you can see it when you wake up each morning and remind yourself that yesterday is past. You have an empty bowl into which to gather new gifts, new decisions, new challenges, new woes, new joys.
May it be so. Amen.