What is it that makes us happy? For me it is about a mission, a reason to get up in the morning and do and be and connect. I want to make a contribution to something larger than self, I want to be whom I believe I was called to be and I want to connect with others and the Other. When I am about the mission of these goals I feel happy. Do I feel like laughing, evening smiling during all of these experiences? No. To be happy about my life does not mean I enjoy all the parts that are woven together to construct this life I call my own.
Life includes death. From an early ages I was aware of aging, sickness and death. I was not sickly or threatened by death in any way but my mother took me to visit persons too ill to connect with others easily, my mother took me to hospitals and she took me to funerals. While the fragility and instability of life was never experienced by me first-hand I saw its effects up close and personal. I never imagined I would escape these things if I was good or a believer or special. I knew that being human made me part of a narrative that would include death, even untimely death. I would hear people try to make sense of this; why did bad things happen to good people, these must be a “reason” or “God must have wanted him/her more” but none of these statements made any sense to me then or now. I respect that for many these assertions help others move forward. I don’t wish to mess with any of that but I will say it does not work for me.
I have come to believe that suffering, aging, death, are all part of the human experience, that our natures are such that moving from me to Thee or I to we is most deeply understood when we find empathy and connection, bonding in moments of need. I don’t believe each suffering event is a “lesson” but I do believe our human condition, that “we are born to die” and indeed that we begin to die from the moment of our birth is a sign that aging, suffering, dying, is less a penalty and more a source of deeper wisdom. Knowing our own mortality makes us aware there is an end and there is a purpose. To know this experience is finite and our collective mission is to care for one another gives us a sense of assurance, it gives us a sense of meaning.
Thus when I awake every morning I am filled with possibility, creativity to explore my gifts for the purpose of serving this cause, this mission. I know my time is short and my chances of error high. I am not at all uncomfortable with calling myself a sinner, and for me in this particular time and place sin is most often experienced as selfishness. So every morning I attempt to take account of my sins and move forward to “love God and sin boldly” as Martin Luther would say. That is NOT an excuse or a cavalier approach to mistakes, it is rather an acknowledgement that I will err but this no excuse to give up, to love God propels me to engage the other, the Other, and to live out this mission of mine, of ours.
I rarely look back these days, for remembrances of good times or sad times or hard times. I cannot affect any of these experiences, what I can do is affect what lies ahead of me. I don’t want to waste precious time worrying about what others think or what I failed to do, instead I want to make a difference, to help build that New Jerusalem that Jesus imagined and worked for. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad in it.” Amen.