Grateful For Each Lesson

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It’s been said that better questions lead us naturally to better answers, and that it’s in not knowing that we open the doorway to knowing. I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a consideration of things that truly matter in a complex world.

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When life becomes challenging, we can be faced with difficult things that won’t just go away. When that happens, what is in us and around us that still has meaning and can help us endure?

Join me this week as we consider that a river taught me about that.

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In one of my earliest podcasts, I shared a poem that’s worth revisiting. A couple of decades ago, I went through a series of challenges, several of which were life-threatening. That fall and winter were harsher than I’ll ever be able to put into words. To clear my head and pull myself back together, I repeatedly headed south to my favorite stretch of the Brazos River. I went there to stand in the stillness, to listen, to pray, and to feel for even the faintest indications that I was coming alive again. I wasn’t without hope, but I was frightened, and my endurance had been taken beyond its limit.

In the quiet beside the river, the tall grasses were bone dry, leaves had not begun to show themselves on the skeletal trees that lined the banks, and the water ran shallow enough to expose the rocks that lay in the riverbed.

Making my way across the fine gravel of a sandbank, I stood as gaunt and grey and motionless as a heron, watching and waiting for nothing in particular. It was on one of those languid visits that an awareness came to me about the river and about my life. So powerful was it that it has stayed with me ever since.

Later, as I drove back to Fort Worth, the following poem formed itself in my mind. By the time I got home, it was only a matter of writing it down. I call the poem, What the River Taught Me.

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photo: Scott Lennox


I’ve learned a thing or two
by looking back at what the River taught me—
the Brazos, always flowing,
high and low, fast and slow,
yielding to its own rhythms
without resisting in every season.
I’ve learned a bit after years of straining,
pushing hard, too often overflowing my own banks
and finding parts of myself
strewn among the litter and the broken branches
in a country where I clearly did not belong.
I’ve learned of holding on and letting go,
alive to where the path is leading.
I’ve learned at last that I am that stone
nestled into the riverbed,
settled, safe, even in flood time,
and that long after I am gone, long after,
the Brazos will still be flowing.

(from In Brazos River Country by Scott Lennox)

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In a moment of clarity, I knew that my life was much like the movement and seasons of the river. Before surgery and radiation, I lived in an almost constant state of motion, energetically doing whatever came to mind. In the time that followed, I was scarcely able to move. Like the dry grasses that rubbed together and the bare branches that clicked against each other as the breeze blew through them, I felt so dry and brittle that I might crumble at the slightest touch.

During that time, deep questions swirled through my mind.

Did I have the inner strength to endure what I was going through? If I survived, would I be able to keep working as a counselor with my voice reduced to nothing more than a harsh whisper? Would I ever be able to swallow or talk normally again? When, if ever, would my energy come back? How could I keep my family from worrying about me? Had I done anything that truly mattered in this lifetime? How might I live well in the midst of what was happening to me?

As time passed, I learned that while extremely challenging things were happening in me and around me, something good and consistent and essential remained unchanged. Though I was dramatically different on the outside, I was still the same person on the inside.

Now, nearly twenty years later, I have navigated my way through those troubling things and am living well. Because of that, I am moved to the deepest gratitude. I’m grateful for each lesson I’ve learned, grateful for everything that has guided and directed me—everything that brought me to precisely where I am in this moment.

I know that I experienced made me wiser, more compassionate, kinder to myself and those around me, infinitely more patient, and much more appreciative of even the smallest things.

More than ever, I’m aware of the Sacred moving in me and through me and around me, and I’m aware of the quiet force in me that remains unmoved and unchanged.

More than ever, I’m aware that like the stones that are securely nestled in the bed of the Brazos River, clarity and peace and hope are always “nestled into the riverbed” of my life.

And more than ever, I realize that when I’m gone from here, the things that are vital and real and enduring in the world will “still be flowing,” just like the river.

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This week’s Beautiful Questions are offered to inspire a bit of reflection. There are five of them.

One: What have you endured and survived that challenged you or made your life difficult?

Two: What is it that enabled you to move through that time?

Three: Looking back, what gifts did you receive as a result of what you experienced?

Four: In what ways were you changed and in what ways have you remained the same?

Five: In what ways have your views of yourself and of the world around you been changed?

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I’ll be interested to learn what you discover as you sit with these questions. Write and tell me about them.

As I say each week,
My Light with your Light

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Thank you again for joining me in these podcasts as we keep doing everything we can to respond to life in increasingly effective ways. As always, I’m open to your comments and feedback.

You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.

And at, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. You’ll also find an archive of all previous podcasts, including episodes three and four, guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.

If you find these podcasts useful, don’t hesitate to share them or tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world.

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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

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The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.

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