On the early morning of March 19, 2014, my father, Brent Fisher, passed away. Dad was a very unique man. He was a thoughtful, deeply spiritual man who was totally devoted to God and those in need.
Dad was not a wealthy man as many define wealth. But the gifts he gave each of us are far more valuable than any stack of gold.
Dad gave one of his greatest gifts to us, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, wife, and ex-wife on his 80th birthday, in March of 2012. He stood at the head of a very long table, with cancer spreading through his body, knowing his remaining life on earth is numbered by months, not years, and delivered this wonderful message. It was his greatest gift he could give us all at that moment in time.
Today I am passing this treasured gift on to you...my dear reader.
As all things written by Dad, you will be compelled to read this over a few times to fully understand his deeper meaning. Take it to heart, as he is unlocking for each of us the mystery of how to live great, wonderful lives no matter your circumstances.
This work is titled "Staring at the Sun".
Staring at the Sun - By Brent Fisher
Today I have brought with me two cigar boxes. Always a favorite for me to store necessities away for future use. The first box holds a wrench and pair of pliers. Basic tools for survival in our mechanistic world.
The second box holds enough silver coins for each of you to have one. Do not be misled. Their true value in my mind does not lie in their being particular coins. I am told by an expert they have little value. Monetarily their value lies in the claim of being pure silver. However, that is not their purpose as a gift from me to you.. .it lies in the engraving. But more of that later.
A Higher Purpose
I acknowledge my age 80 propels me into those older souls who characterize their lives as staring into the sun. We face our own demise as it grows closer. The sun that has for so long blessed us with numerous sunrises now draws closer to the moment when it will extinguish and with that moment consume us.
What is left?
Not much, just rivulets pouring forth from a life lived in a small office constrained by time and space listening to the confessions and struggles of men, women and children.
How could anyone bear up under such a self imprisonment?
Only if the imprisonment serves a higher purpose-- to discover the soul which dwells in each of us and thereby unleash its power for transcendence and transformation.
I confess that I have traveled very little on this earth in these 80 years, but vicariously through the memories of those who came to my office, have been virtually everywhere and seen much that otherwise would appear foreign to me... all through the eyes and ears of others.
Sources of Meaning to Life.....Doing for Others
At my father's funeral in Pampa, Texas, when I was 9 years old, my mother took me to the back of the church into the overflow room to see a simple window....one word "OTHERS" appeared there. No names were attached to this particular window, unlike all of the other windows that had been donated by a church member with their names inscribed on the window sill; but mother said, "Your father had that window placed in the church." This became for me a personal imprimatur stamped on my forehead, a missional calling lasting to this very day.
So then how do you find meaning and survive and serve under limited circumstance? Viktor Franklin his book from Death Camp to Existentialism offered a way. It has served me well. A way to keep meaning alive when boredom, failure, repetition threatened to overwhelm. First after observing the Nazi prisoners, he came to this conclusion. One thing that helped people survive was to Do Something for Others. Easy requirement, and wrapped as it was in my marching orders, it supplied me with an endless resource of meaning.
Find Value in the Simple Things
The second source of meaning was to experience a value. My tiny office has three paintings I happen to like.., my books of poems especially loved and my tiny radio tuned to NPR...to say nothing of favored books on psychotherapy and related subjects.
Learning from Your Pain
The third source of meaning lay in letting pain be your teacher. Early in my work, my training, I learned about psychic pain. Learning and experiencing physical pain came later. But each form taught it's own lessons of endurance, patience, sorrow, hopelessness and the searing nature of isolation and torment. Each time pain visited me it deepened me, sensitized me to persons sitting across from me and opened gates of understanding to admire close up the courage they had to continue on despite the wound to body, mind, and soul.
I challenge you to use these three sources of meaning to see you through the difficult times of life. If you are bored then, look to yourself, not others for rescue.
Channel the Eagle's Spirit
Now look at the coin. There you will find an eagle in full flight. Soaring above all, higher in flight than the sparrow, the pigeon, or the wild turkey, is the eagle with an eyesight that seeks out every detail and is prepared to dive to the ground to grasp its food or build its nest in the area of mountain vastness.
My challenge to you is to take to heart the eagle spirit and reach beyond in whatever your choice of work.
Then, most of all, note the sunrise over which the eagle is emblazoned. This brilliant sun that marks our time. It is for me the sunrise of the resurrection.
Those two burned into the silver coin hold for me the great resource of life lived in service to others...the soaring spirit and the resurrection sunrise always fulfilling and refueling the heart of the journey.
Now go make the journey, and let the rivulet of this speech go with you from one who now "stares into the sun."
"One with God"
My sisters, Debbie, Lynn, Laurie and I have learned so much from our Dad. With his passing, we lose his wisdom and guidance on all issues regarding matters of the heart and spirit, but we know that imbedded deep within each of us is his permanent impression upon our souls.
Carol and I thank each of you for your kind words and thoughtfulness during this trying time. We have lost someone dear to us and rejoice that he is now "One with God", which is the culmination of a lifetime on earth of service to God and to "Others".