I woke early greeted by a dawn ablaze with hope and gratitude. It’s so good to be alive! In spite of overwhelming concerns and problems swirling around me, my little brush with mortality reminds me that life is a precious gift to be treasured and savored.
Opening the pantry to get the makings for coffee, I was confronted with a chaotic mess. Cans and boxes were randomly piled on top of each other, some falling on the floor as I reached for the coffee filters. What had previously felt like a chore now seemed an opportunity. Alternately sipping coffee and sorting through the bounty in front of me, I sent up a thank you.
Why did it take a serious illness to remind me life is precious? Why have I allowed myself to be sidetracked by things over which I have no control? Why when I claim to serve a God who cares for me do make myself sick with worry? Why do I find it so hard to trust that God is in control? Why have I allowed myself to be infected by the hate and polarization swirling around us? Why is it so hard to accept that His time is not my time; His will not my will? How dare I think I know what is best for others when I don’t know what is best for myself? Why am I such a control freak? Why can’t I just accept that the only person I can change is myself? I whisper a favorite prayer phrase, “O Radiant One, my small ego unravels in you.”
I put on my coat and go for a walk. My hair swirls in a spring tinged breeze. I laugh out loud. I see a friend walking toward me. “I’ve been praying for you,” she says. I hug her. “Thank you. Your prayers are working.”
Coming home I grab a cup of coffee and open one of the three books I am currently reading. I am blown away by a new word that describes this swelling appreciation for a functioning body. “Beloving.” The difference between believing and beloving is one letter.
We put so much focus on ideas, ideologies, beliefs and so little on action. It is not enough for me to believe in God; I have to believe God, do and be what he says. I have to be-love this gift of life. Be his caring, his concern for this beautiful world, be his hands and feet, his hymn of praise, love, and gratitude. There is little reason to believe a Heaven exists once I die if I discredit and abuse this our Heaven on Earth. Faith without works is dead for faith is not about the future, but now. The Kingdom of Heaven is now. It comes as we be-love each other and life. If I want forgiveness I must be forgiveness. If I want affirmation I must be affirming. If I want peace and security I must be peaceful and tolerant. If I want justice, I must be just. If I want clean air and water I must thoughtfully be-love this earth.
Savoring my recovery I vow to be-love to this life. I renounce power, possessions and prestige. I vow to spend what time I have left to be a loving beloved.
Joyce Shutt is pastor emeritus of the Fairfield Mennonite Church. You can follow her blog at stepstohope.weebly.com.