Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This Holy, Precious Life

While heading down a back road, I found my breath taken away by the sight of a red-tailed hawk swooping before me and then rising instantly back into the air. It was a glorious sight that truly made me grateful that I was there to witness it. How much of life is about being present?

Isaiah 6:3 announces, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth was filled with his glory!" How many of us read that verse and pay scant attention that it is the "whole earth" that's filled with his glory? How many of us take little notice of this truth in the world around us? We should not need the chorus of the seraphims to remind us of the beauty and grace that touches everything in creation.

Do we, like children, still delight in finding a frog?

Or splash in puddles from the rain?

Do we live lives of love, joy and great laughter? Are our hearts filled with hymn like song when gaze out over the mountains?

Or how about when we look upon a iris in full bloom? In the smile of a stranger? In the voice of a child singing quietly in another room as they play?

Does the love of God glimmer in us like sunlight on the waters? It should and those around us would notice the delight in the dance of our days as we understand that the movement of grace flows through us and upon us. Unlike so many, as believers, we should grasp the wild expansion of God's compassion in the very landscape around us. Because we understand the gift of this creative act, we should be able to hold such beauty within us as no one else can. The whole earth is filled with his glory because it is a composition of the infinite, it provides us with a suggestion of what is to come. Unlike so many others, our exploration is filled with fixed intention because we know that the cosmos and all contained within it rest within the Divine Mystery. 

Time is precious because it is finite on this side of the veil. It is a gift no less because of its finiteness. All of the delicateness and artistry of this world are here, not by the mere chance of a cosmic accident, but as an expression of tremendous love. Everything (from the rivers and oceans, to mountains and forests, to each and every person we come across in our days) are the expressions of a God who, in this very act of speaking us into existence, is a reminder that God loves us.  

Sometimes it can be so much easier to remember that when we are walking through the woods than when we are walking through a busy store or in morning traffic. Yet those around us are no less wondrous than the very trees and creatures we find in nature. All are varied expressions of a Creator who declares each one, "Good." I think a part of fallenness is our inability to see the sacredness of each other. Christ reminded us of this when the Word became flesh. He became one of us to cause us to remember, "The kingdom of God is within you and among you." Is not the wrinkled hand of an elderly person not as dear and precious and beautiful as the exquisite golden and red leaves that emblazon our trees in Autumn?  

Why then do we not tremble in awe at the majesty of the moment? Or be overwhelmed with gratitude?

Why are we so oft to forget the blessedness of this second with each breath and beating of our hearts?

Do we too often miss the holy in the quotidian moments of our busy days? Do we not comprehend the sublime in the smell of freshly baked bread? Or in clean sheets on our newly made beds? In the embrace of a friend? These are all consecrated moments that reveal the very nature of our God. as the Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote, "Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy." How many of us forget that? I know I need to be frequently reminded, if by the dive and dance of a red-tailed hawk in flight or one of my sons taking my hand as we walk at night.  In those reminders, God speaks, "Be filled with wonder. Give yourself to delight. Love and joy should penetrate you until it comes bursting out. Discover amazement and hear the song contained in each sunrise and sunset. Be aware that all of this is precious. And, when you have, simply offer up your thanks."

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