Three Surprises –
In a recent conversation that included a range of topics including heaven, I told a friend what had been said to me many years ago. “There will be three surprises when we get to heaven. People will be surprised who made it. People will be surprised who didn’t make it. Lastly, people will be surprised we made it!” It’s a humorous yet true statement about the afterlife and Heaven’s membership. There will be surprises aplenty so don’t be so convinced in your beliefs, ability, and acceptability that you lose the mystery of a God who knows more than you, sees more than you, and is bigger than you can imagine. Heaven mirrors God’s nature and love not ours.
Wisdom teaches us that our ways are not God’s ways, our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. In the Benedictine tradition, we are to keep our; “eyes tilted toward the ground.” We are to keep our sin and shortcomings always in front of us. Not as a burden to bear but a constant reminder of God’s goodness and a reason to rejoice.
Several years ago I was leading a Bible study and we were talking about God’s grace. I made the statement; “Without God, no matter what we said or did, we had no true goodness or love.” A man in our group spoke up and asked; “If we don’t have anything worth redeeming why does God love us?” “That,’ I answered, ‘is why they call it grace.”
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Each of us want our lives to matter, to leave our mark on the world. Our lives are so brief. Even if we live a thousand years how substantial is this when compared to the eons that have come before and perhaps after us?
Our desire to live a life which matters is unmistakable but how we go about achieving this goal leads to some interesting choices.
I have no interest in getting tatted up. When I was younger I was threatened with grievous bodily harm if tattoos or piercings were ever discovered. Now, older and being able to do as I please, sagging is a real concern. What is a beautiful eagle today could resemble a turkey, or worse, tomorrow.
The quest to leave a mark on the world still pulses within me. As a contemplative and a Benedictine Oblate two daily reflections are;
To keep death before our eyes is to be reminded each breath inhaled is one breath closer to our last.
As the philosopher Ferris Bueller so eloquently puts it,
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.“
The brevity of life is lamented by our elders and longed for by youth. Many years ago I discovered the importance of not wishing for the weekend, the next holiday, vacation or important milestone.
To exist, to experience, to live in this moment, to make it count is how we best imprint ourselves on this world. To know each thought, each word, each action is tattooing, leaving our mark is both humbling and exciting.
drawing with permanent markers,