person on narrow canyon path

To Life!

by Karen MacDonald

(revised from a sermon preached 9/13/15)

Fr. Richard Rohr has said:  “Your life is not about you.  You are about life.”

Natalie Angiers, in her book The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, gives an amazing, expansive view of this truth.  She describes the puzzle pieces of life, RNA and DNA, that arose in the first cells to emerge on Earth, the same puzzle pieces that have infused, and still infuse, every living creature since, up until this moment and in every ensuing moment.  “Life so loved being alive that it has never, since its sputtering start, for a moment ceased to live.”  (p. 181)  

And Deuteronomy declares in God’s voice, “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you nor is it too far away….No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe….Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors….”  (Deuteronomy 30: 11-20, passim)

The vermilion flycatcher and the mesquite tree in which it flits, the humpback chub fish and California condor trying to regain their footing in the Grand Canyon, Mexican gray wolves and the trees of the Gila National Forest, the western diamondback that calls our deserts home, you, me—we’re all enmeshed in and vibrating with the essence of life!  Life is imprinted in us.  So let us choose life, with the divine view.  Choose love, for all our relations, human and otherwise, in creation.  Then we’ll live long in the land given us, this beautiful Earth.

The choice isn’t too hard for us; the word isn’t outside us, far away in heaven or beyond the sea.  Rather, the word is in our mouth and in our heart.  The spark if life is in us from the first cell.  The Spirit of the Holy is in us from in the beginning.  

While the divine way of life and love isn’t too hard for us, it can be difficult nonetheless, as Jesus knew.  It’s out of step with the dominant world’s way, and sometimes with our own wants, and so can be painful and sorrowful and risky.  This may be the Lenten and the Holy Week experience in a world, and sometimes our own hearts, that are self-centered and fearful.  And this divine way may enrich our Easter living in every season.  For it’s an expanded and expansive way of living.  For example:

  • If I do this or say this, how might it affect the other person?
  • If I stay silent or on the sidelines, how will it affect others, human and otherwise?
  • What animal and Earth resources and human labor went into this item I want?
  • How can I help save the life of others, human and otherwise?
  • Am I living as if I’m part of life that so loves being alive?  As if I’m part of God’s love?

This spirit-centered, holy way of living expands our way of being, expands our very being.

To paraphrase Richard Rohr, our life is not about us.  You and I are about nothing less magnificent than life!  That amazing truth moves us through pain and sorrow and risk to a resurrection, once again and always, of life that loves being alive, of love undeterred for all creation.  Hallelujah!