Living Fully Alive

Loving the days

I love the days that begin quietly, with coffee and scripture. The days that begin slowly, with sunshine wading into the day, rather than appearing suddenly bright. Or maybe the day will be hushed under constant, dripping rain, or cool and clear, when the air whispers invitation.

I love the days when I remember to breathe in peace, and breathe out love — at the beginning moments, the busy moments, the closing moments. I love the days when I remember to breathe at all.

I love the days when I move steadily from one thing to the next — not hasty, not lazy, not frantic — but steady. Days when I feel like I can click into my place in the universe, can hold securely onto my branch of humanity’s family tree. Days when I can truly meet the eyes of my brothers and sisters.

I love the days that close with the acceptance that what has been done, has been done. The days when my body and mind feel tired enough to rest at the end, to hope for another day of fullness.

And I love when the days of forgetting are still reminders to remember. Reminders that, as Rumi says, “These pains that you feel are messengers. Listen to them. Turn them to sweetness.” And again, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” When I forget to be quiet, to be grateful, to breathe in and out, to click into my human family, to rest… When I forget these things, there is still that silent pull of life’s love.

Living fullest life

The lectionary readings for this week carry so much peaceful sweetness: the familiar calming words of still waters and green pastures (Psalm 23), the I AM that claims not just shepherd, but good shepherd (John 10:1-18), the call for wayward sheep to return to “the shepherd and guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).

And then there is this: the invitation to abundant life (John 10:10).

Jesus has said this so many times: that he came to bring life. Thirst-slaking water, hunger-ending bread, abundant life. He came to offer a peace that goes deeper than satisfaction, that is stronger than comfort. In this passage of John, he describes that full life as a pasture — a safe-haven of salvation, a deliverance from the threat of wolves or bandits. A place where we can have full life.

This morning, as I sat with this text from John, some of my favorite words of St. Irenaeus washed over me:

Life in [hu]man is the glory of God;
moreover [hu]man’s life is the vision of God.
The glory of God is [hu]man fully alive.
(Ireanaeus, Against the Heresies, 4:21 and 6:20)

I love those words. Our life is God’s glory, God’s vision. When we wake up and live fully, we glorify God. When we come present to this very moment — to this very place of our beating blood and salty tears and tired bodies — we are fulfilling God’s vision. When we truly enter into relationship with each other — unhurried, without judgment, just to be together as people — we are God’s glory. When we come to that prepared table with not only our family, but also our enemies (who are, in fact, still part of the family) our hearts will flow-over with goodness and our God will flow-over with joy (Psalm 23:5-6).

Today I am reminding myself that the invitation to presence, to life abundant, to the fullness of God’s vision is always open. If we stay here, quivering with each moment, like a drop of mercury, then we can taste it.

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother’s milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.

God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines.
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
until one day it cracks them open.
(Rumi, from “Unmarked Boxes”)

And now, you. What messages are being carried by the pains in your life right now? What bandits or wolves threaten to overwhelm you? Where have you seen God’s joy today — in what shapes is it hiding or being cracked open? What does it mean to you that human life is God’s glory and vision? What reminds you or invites you to live full and abundant life, to enter into the safe pasture of God’s peace?

Linking posts and words and lives with friends at:

A note on Rumi

There is a lot of Rumi in this post. “These pains that you feel…” is from ‘A Man and a Woman Arguing’ and “let yourself be silently drawn…” is from ‘An Empty Garlic.’ The phrase “Stay here, quivering with each moment, like a drop of mercury” is from ‘The Waterwheel.’ The final passage is an excerpt from ‘Unmarked Boxes.’ All of these poems can be found in Coleman Barks’ fantastic collection of The Essential Rumi.

photo source (green pasture); sun through trees is my own, taken on the Ness Community Homestead in the hills of the Adirondacks.



Filed under Lectionary Reflections, My Faith Journey, Theology and Faith

5 responses to “Living Fully Alive

  1. nice. i love rumi…my pains right now are reigning me in a bit, reminding me of the things that are most important in life…i have gotten a little off the last couple months and so the rod and staff have been protecting and prodding me a bit…smiles. i love mornings like that too…

  2. I love the days when I remember to breathe in peace, and breathe out love …

    oh bristol, i found myself breathing deep at the end of this post, finding such strength in your words. you have such a gift. keep ministering friend, and i hope you have many more of these days to come… xo

  3. what struck me while reading was the reminder that my enemy is my family. If I believe the story of creation and the story of Noah, which I do, then there is no human being that I can distance myself from kinship with. The best and the worst are all mine. Family.

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