It’s Eastertide. Christ is risen, and among us in the form of the Holy Spirit. We are each richly blessed in our own ways, with food, clothing, shelter, health, meaningful work, and ministry opportunities…the list could go on for quite a while for each of us, I imagine. Life is good, as the saying goes. (And certainly much better for us than the lives of people in war-torn countries such as Ukraine!)
As I checked emails before sitting down to write this, I saw that a colleague plans a one-day in-and-out hike of the Grand Canyon. In fact, by the time you read this, he will have done it. I can’t imagine trying to do that in one day. After all, I’m the one who doesn’t go on bike rides with friends because it feels like moving too fast; I’d rather walk. Yet, I imagine it will be a blessing for him, and those who hike with him.
We all live different lives. We also live multiple lives, and I’ve been reflecting on that lately. When I take my morning walks, I seldom plan which way I will go when I head out the door, preferring to let my instinct—or the Holy Spirit?—guide me.
I do think it’s the Holy Spirit, at least sometimes. For example, on a recent morning, I followed my feet and saw a neighbor that I used to see walking pretty regularly, but hadn’t seen in a while. My gut (or Spirit?) told me to detour and go join her. When I got closer, I saw she was wearing a knee brace. I walked with her and learned that she was having knee replacement surgery that day. We caught up a bit on our lives as we walked, until our paths diverged and I headed for home. I do believe that, because I was open to the Spirit’s nudges, I was able to be present with and for this woman, wish her blessings on the surgery, and hold her in prayer through the day.
So, one of my lives is neighbor. Another is walker. Another is prayer (as a verb). Another is writer and editor. Another is spouse. That list could also go on for quite a while.
My life is also, fundamentally, a gift from God. As I reflected on that gift, I found myself thinking of a sentence that’s stayed with me since I first read it in a Daily Bread meditation last year. Chris Campbell, one of our Beloved in the Desert interns, was reflecting on Jesus’ declaration that “those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” He also noted that he lives a variety of lives, with friends, family, work, studies. He then stated, “I want to save each of these lives, but as a result, I’ve lost my life.”
I invite you to join me in thinking and praying on this during Eastertide. What lives do you have? How tightly do you cling to each one? Where is your ego running your life and charting your priorities, instead of you being open and able to follow the Spirit’s nudges?
What would it be like to hold your various ego lives more loosely (“lose-ly”?!) and invite God to guide your one gift of a life?
I love this reminder, especially the question at the end. I have an emotionally needy friend who calls quite often. Sometimes I’m reluctant to return her calls because I resent the time she takes up. But today I answered her right away, we had an upbeat chat, and both of us felt happier as a result. Yes, that was God guiding me to be the compassionate wise elder that I have asked to be. Thank you, Shirin!
You’re welcome, Aston! I’m so glad to help support a shift in perspective for you. Thanks be to God!