On the nature of life

Yesterday, I was sitting out in the afternoon sun, reading with pencil in hand. (These days it seems like I do a lot less talking and a whole lot more reading and listening. For someone who was so sure of all the answers not so long ago, it sometimes seems strange to have a lot more questions and the few answers that I do have seem to simply exist to breed more questions—but I digress so back to the story at hand.)

We live on a little land—there is a lot of space, trees, grass. I have a little garden that has miraculously survived in spite of my less than green thumb. It is pleasurable to me to sit out there especially on these warm summer days when the sky seems to be just the perfect shade of blue. When I first looked up from my book, it just seemed like there was an endless stretch of green grass in front of me—lifeless and burnt by the blazing sun. But something started to happen the longer that I sat there on that bench observing the world around me. All of a sudden that field began to reveal many things that I did not see before. First I saw small flowers spread out among the grass, and then I noticed there were different kinds. The longer I looked; I realized that some of the flowers were just blooming, others in their maturity, and some others for whom their short life was effectively over. Then I started to notice that the foliage was actually not alone, it was teeming with life! There were bees darting to and fro, almost dancing as it were from flower to flower in search of pollen. At first I only noticed one or two but then all of a sudden I saw them everywhere.

Little ants, bugs, and beetles of many kinds all made their own paths through the long, tall blades each hurrying to its next destination. Then I looked around and I noticed butterflies passing by and birds sitting in the branches of the trees. My eyes were originally blind to it, but there was a thriving ecosystem right outside my front door! The blades of grass provide shade for the creatures scurrying beneath and those creatures provide fertilization so the grass can continue to grow. The flowers generously share their sweetness with the bees, and the bees fly from one flower to the next pollinating. Everything is individual, yet they are connected in ways that I cannot begin to comprehend. Though there was not a human in sight, I suddenly felt very much like I was not alone. It was as if the slow rhythm of the flowers moving gently in the breeze was a song inviting me to sing along and the sturdiness of the nearby trees longed to tell me a story. I had gone from seeing an empty patch of grass to a wondrous world of color, variety, and function. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and wonder of the world in that passing moment. Life is a miraculous sight to behold.

The world around me, flourishing and ever growing in its natural processes, reflects the reality of my own experience of being alive. The very existence of life in all of its forms seems to me to be a manifestation of divine love—a display of the self-giving and relational nature of God. The Christian tradition has resolutely declared that God is love, and nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the incarnation of Jesus. He displayed a radical, self-giving love that absorbed all the evil of the world into Himself on the cross and somehow from this act bursts forth new life. I am inclined to believe that this same kind of love has driven and sustained life and creation from its very inception. Life is the very outcome of both the love and power of God.

Life is beautiful, yet tragic.

Ordered, yet progressing.

Ordinary, yet holy.

Life is a gift.


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