Heaven is all around us, and the Spirit of God invites us to awaken to a life where every ordinary moment shimmers with gold… The Golden Hour is here, right where you are. Jesus told us we would be his witnesses, first in the place where our feet are planted. At your kitchen table, in line at the grocery store, walking the dog with in your neighborhood, in the boardroom, on the other end of that phone call. This moment, right now, is what you are called to. This is the adventure of a lifetime.
It’s difficult to truly know the meaning of love. Most of us would probably say we know it when we feel it. But the truth of love is hard, if not impossible, to put into words. True love is bigger than our emotions can contain; richer than our senses can absorb. The Bible tells us God is love and, I have found that, when trying to explain love, it’s best to begin with God… God is love. What if God is inviting us to be love in the world, too?
The sky was cloudless and blue, just like the sky on September 11, 2001, when two airplanes crashed into the two towers and thousands of lives were lost… Together, my husband and I stood at the edge of one of the pools of water that fall away forever, each pool surrounded by the names of those who lost their lives that day. Not far from one of the pools is the Survivor Tree. It’s a small tree that endured the destruction around it and was found, alive, in the midst of the rubble.
We had the windows down, the sunroof open, and the radio off. Out of the silence, my niece asked this question: “What do you think happens when we die?” I admit to being caught off guard. I gathered my thoughts and rambled on and on for a few miles about existential possibilities, philosophical abstracts, and unproven theories about the afterlife… Glancing at my niece, in the midst of my rambling, I was convinced I’d complicated things with all my words… “Good grief!” I thought. “I broke my niece!”
Meanwhile our little friend kept running around the house. And then, he started screaming, because why not scream in an empty house that has an epic echo, right? The running and screaming got our attention. We stopped talking and watched him. The more I watched the more I laughed. “Man!” I thought to myself, “kids sure know how to have fun!” Then I remembered I was in my own empty house and what rules were there against running around in circles while screaming in your own house? None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
A couple of years ago, for the very first time that I can ever remember, I missed Easter. When my alarm went off to get me moving in time to make the sunrise service, I felt a little bit “off.” I thought it was a headache, so I rolled over and made the decision to skip sunrise and get myself to the 10:30 service. It wasn’t long, however, before I knew something was wrong. It was vertigo. My husband was eight hours away on a ski trip in Colorado. When he called to report on the fun he was having, he could tell something was wrong.
Tasha sat slumped on the bench in the corner of the fitting room. Tears formed and spilled over into her lap, just like the rain outside. Tasha’s friend (she can be Nikki) said, “But we’re getting through this. We are doing this together.”
Through the years, I have learned that some of what we call “failure” is really just growth, or transition, or a lesson being learned. It is the act of discovering something new about ourselves and the world, or entering in to a new season, or becoming more fully alive.
As God is prone to do, God was teaching me something in the midst of an ordinary, human moment… When we grieve the news of war and famine, of families being torn apart, of people losing their lives, of injustice, poverty, sickness, and death, God grieves with us. God enters into the weight of darkness with us. God does not shy away, or point a finger, or scold, or blame. God comes near to us, presses in with us, bears the weight of sadness with us. Thanks be to God.
I received my first prescription for anxiety and depression ten years ago. It was Lexapro. I had been to therapy, and it helped. But the tape still kept playing in my head. When I was growing up, I knew mental illness was a thing, but no one called it that. Touched. A little off. Crazy. Loony. These are the words I heard. The adults in my life inferred that the right amount of faith would cure it, if you were looking for a cure. But mostly, some people were crazy… and others weren’t.