I love to read magazines, biographies, theology books, fiction novels, just about anything. My desk is always covered with stacks of books. One of my favorite Christian books is A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr. In it she issues this amazing challenge: live life now. She writes:
We stand in the midst of nourishment and we starve. We dwell in the land of plenty, yet we persist in going hungry. Not only do we dwell in the land of plenty; we have the capacity to be filled with the utter fullness of God (Eph. 3:16-19). In the light of such possibility, what happens? Why do we drag our hearts? Lock up our souls? Why do we limp? Why do we straddle issues? Why do we live feebly, so dimly? Why aren’t we saints?
Each of us could come up with individual answers to all these questions, but I want to suggest here a common cause. The reason we live life so dimly and with such divided hearts is that we have never really learned how to be present with quality to God, to self, to others, to experiences and events, to all created things. We have never learned to gather up the crumbs of whatever appears in our path at every moment.
We meet all of these lovely gifts only half there. Presence is what we are all starving for. Real Presence! We are too busy to be present, too blind to see the nourishment and salvation in the crumbs of life, the experiences of each moment. Yet the secret of daily life is this: There are no leftovers. There is nothing—no thing, no person, no experience, no thought, no joy or pain—that cannot be harvested and used for nourishment on our journey to God.
What I am suggesting here is that everything in your life is a stepping-stone to holiness if only you recognize that you do have within you the grace to be present to each moment. Your presence is an energy that you can choose to give or not give. Every experience, every thought, every word, every person in your life is a part of a larger picture of your growth. That’s why I call them crumbs. They are not the whole loaf, but they can be nourishing if you give them your real presence. Let everything energize you. Let everything bless you. Even your limping can bless you.
We live in a limping world full of crumbs—but also full of the abundant life of Jesus!
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. (Psalm 118:22-24)
Some people are cowering in their homes now, afraid of death and illness. Perhaps even afraid of the germs brought into their world by their neighbors, by the postal carrier, by the store clerk, and by the minister. In faith, we have to fight our fears or we will smudge the wet-ink “image” God has written in our humanness and hearts.
Reflecting on this, can we pray together this prayer?
O God of tender mercies, I confess that too often I like to keep life at arm’s length. I keep my neighbors distant. I share too little of my real heart with my friends. I escape to work, school, television or other distractions to avoid deep conversations. I go to the office or classroom intent on protecting my personal bubble.
Even more, I know I’ve kept you at arm’s length. I’ve kept you safe in heaven. But heaven has leaned down to the earth and I’ve been touched anew. Like thirsty ground I long for you. Forgive my casualness about your Love. Forgive my shallow life. I am finished with shallowness. I used to pray that I be saved from eternal death, but now I pray to be saved from shallow living. Eternal death? Shallow living? Is there a difference? O God, deliver me from shallow living!
“This is the day the Lord has made.” Show me what it means to seek you with my whole heart! Jesus, enliven my relationships with my family! Increase the relationships with those around me! Bond me to people at my church! And Lord, weld my life to yours—that I may love you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. Amen.