Tuesday, August 6, 2013

In the Land of the Living

Today is my birthday.

Since I’m the sort of person who refuses to go out for a birthday dinner unless I’ve been assured that no waiter will sing, announcing a natal day (even to my small but awesome group of readers) is a dramatic shift in behavior for me.

But this morning I woke up with faces in my head – some still in my life and others long since drifted away. I thought about my children, my parents, sisters, lovers, friends young and old. I thought of people I’ve known for decades and what a deep and abiding privilege it is to see the length of a life. And I thought of others with whom I’d spent a day and the way I remember things they said, how their words were often keys I needed to get through the next gate.

I recall those who left wounds, and how wounds turned into scars and scars into lessons and lessons into love that I could freely give away. And I thought about the people I’d hurt—in ignorance or fear, insecurity or worry—the way I handled hearts carelessly, mostly when I was young, but sometimes when I was older and oh so broken. How fervently I pray grace on these tender souls; healing and second chances for those I’ll see again, and mercy for those who must wait until we meet in another life.

I think of people I’ve never met face to face and how the World Wide Web first introduced me to kindred spirits 18 years ago on a chat list from Prince Edward Island. How it continues to this day, my Twitter and Facebook feeds spinning straw into gold, philosophy into friends, concepts into conversations and lonely moments into life rafts.

And I thought of these words, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.”

I used to think the miracle was that the treasure—the Creator, the Holy, the Kingdom of Heaven—chose to dwell in humans who were the stuff of earth.  But is the miracle not bigger than this? Isn’t the real miracle the way that we become the treasure and the stuff of heaven? The way we believe in love even when it makes no sense? In kindness, though we’ve been proven wrong? In the bus’s arrival when there’s not a cloud of dust on the horizon?

And once we see this way, the world is forever changed. Then we say in time, as Emily said in eternity, “Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?”

Not every minute, nor even every day.

But today? Oh yes. And for that gift, you people of my heart, I am so grateful.