Faith Factor: Good News Sierra Journal I Gabby, the Bagpiper, and the Brainand#8230;
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; There was thunderous applause and a four minute standing ovation for Gabrielle Giffords when she made a surprise appearance in Congress to vote yes on the Debt Ceiling Bill. Heroism trumps tragedy once again. Thereand#8217;s nothing quite like a courageous lady with a fighting spirit overcoming mortal wounds to pierce through all the recent political rancor and division over the national debt. And just after her appearance in Congress, a tweet appeared on her account. and#8220;The Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight.and#8221; She modeled the kind of sheer determination, grit, and spirit that Americans really need right now.-
The last time I can recall such an emotional outpouring was from the world of golf on the first tournament after the death of Payne Stewart in that ill-fated private jet incident a few years ago. Imagine yourself on the first tee at the opening ceremony just after losing one of golfand#8217;s most unforgettable characters. From out of the mist, you hear a faint sound, followed eventually by a lone bagpiper in full regalia walking down the fairway, finally emerging from the fog, droning out Amazing Grace. Reportedly, there was not a dry eye on the golf course. Payne Stewart lived a fairly raucous life, but became a man of faith late in the game. Ultimately he spoke some words that proved to be fairly prophetic, just as if he had an inkling about his fate. and#8220;Iand#8217;m going to a special place when I die, but I want to make sure my life is special while Iand#8217;m here.and#8221;
and#8220;The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes,and#8221; said William James. Do we really age better if we have a light-hearted and optimistic outlook? Apparently so, according to Dr. Stephany Brassen at the University of Hamburg. Even the sight of a happy face in a picture stimulates the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with good mental health. Good enough for me; thank you brain. The keys seemed to be focusing on positive thoughts, and living in the moment. Hey, wait a minute. That sounds a little like the wisdom of old. and#8220;Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and#8212; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy and#8212; think about such things.and#8221; So I guess we didnand#8217;t really discover the power of thoughts and attitudes in our generation. Someone already knew.
Earlier this summer, I lingered at the foot of Yosemite Falls and just did some good old-fashioned people-watching. The young kids romped around in the mist happy as larks, but even most adults smiled, laughed, and took pictures. It made me wonder what else has that same power to produce instant smiles and happiness. Babies, puppies, beauty in nature, being in love. Then I drifted into my own personal list: a sunset motorcycle ride in the Sierra, a crisp morning on the golf course, watching Great Egrets do their dance, worship music on a keyboard, a legend in concert, blues guitar, simple acts of compassion. Everyone has their list. The light finally went on for me as I was reading and#8220;Understanding Jefferson.:
and#8220;We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.and#8221;
As a nation, and as a people, itand#8217;s what we set out to do. And what about materialism? Do we absolutely need it to be happy? Does love, beauty, compassion, altruism, and spirituality ultimately depend on exorbitant materialism? That just might be our quest, to prove thereand#8217;s a depth of spirit within us that transcends the material world, that we are just sojourners here, destined for another world. Cat Stevens laid it down in song a generation ago. and#8220;Thereand#8217;s so much left to know, and Iand#8217;m on the road to find out.and#8221;
and#8212; Randy Allen is as Sierra Sun columnist, worship musician, and former teacher. Heand#8217;s lived in Truckee for 29 years.