your one wild and precious life.

lately, i’ve been thinking that life is a lot shorter than it seems.

right now, these days stretch out into forever, and seem to never end–and yet they fly by, and it’s like i’m trying to keep the sand from slipping out of my hands, in between my knuckles.  this is the beginning, of the end.  people will graduate, and leave, and get adult jobs, and move on.  and community, as i know it, will drastically change.  i’ll say goodbyes, more of them than i’d like.  no more lunches after chapel or debates during class or writing parties in the library.  no more tests, yes, and no more assigned readings, yes.  but also, no more mentor group meetings, or funny theological jokes from fellow students, or impromptu lunches on the quad.  it seems like seminary would never end–and now, it seems like it’s gone by, too fast.

when i think about what’s next, a couple of things can [do] happen.  i get a tight knot in my throat, the kind i get when i’m about to cry [always] and have to blink away the tears of something good and something beautiful and something that i knew was right…ending.  i knew Beeson was right.  i knew this was next.  and i get sad, with all the goodbyes.  and i get overwhelmed, with all the decisions.  and i get scared, at what it is next and what it means to live life one step at a time, truly not knowing what is around the corner.  and i get excited, at the possibilities.  and i feel thankful, and blessed, and overwhelmed with God’s graciousness in what i have experienced in these last four years.  i know some people might say, “there’s no way you could feel all those things at once, ames.”

well, trust me, i can.  the human heart is incredibly deceitful, yes–but it’s also very, very complex.  at least, mine is.

but mostly, when i look at back on these last four years, and i think about how short life is, i feel compelled to spend it well.  i think about my sweet friend paula, who is worshipping in eternity.  her life was short…too short, it seemed.  and yet she spent it well.  i think about the saints who have gone before me, the ones who have lived until they were elderly, or whose young lives were laid down for the gospel.

and i have an overwhelming desire to live life well.   in that whatever i do, or wherever i go, the lord would let me live life well, and to the fullest.  that i would love and serve and risk and give without abandon.  that i would pour it all out, for his kingdom.  that i would make much of him in my life, and not myself.

and yet when these philosophical ideas come into conversation with the reality of making job choices, looking at pensions, thinking through retirements, reconsidering graduate school and further studies…it seems daunting.

and at the end of the day, i have to come back to trusting, to having faith, to knowing that God doesn’t plan the ends without planning the means.  [thank you for that line, caedmon’s call.]  and that there’s something in store, and that just as he’s provided the last twenty-six years, he’ll keep providing–even if it’s not in the ways i’ve always pictured.

i want to keep trusting, keep pursuing, and keep believing the truth and the beauty of the gospel.  that’s what i want my one wild and precious life to be about.

 

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

[mary oliver, “the summer day”]

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