Life is a gift. That is the topic I was given to write about. Life is a gift. Even though it is true, I am not so sure I like that idea.
Something in me would rather earn it. I prefer to think that there is a plan that if followed properly – diligently, with great effort and even great wisdom – then it would produce “life”. If “gifting” is the required procedure to be followed in order to acquire “life”, then I am dependent upon someone or something. I am out of control. “Life” is beyond my grasp.
And yet, my experience is that most of my “life” moments have been unmerited or unexpected. For example, I had a bad headache this morning and my wife Lynne offered to rub my head for a good long while. Her offer was kind and unexpected. It was in the rush of getting out the door to the office. She was getting ready for her day. And my headache went away… for a while at least. It was a gift. I felt loved and cared for. I felt her compassion and kindness. It was a little taste of “life.” It was a gift.
That makes me ponder about when I do experience “life”… We took a trip this summer to Lynne’s home town and had some of those fun moments. They tended to be unscripted, the along-the-way moments when “life” simply intruded. They tend to be relational even if they involve external events or accomplishments. “Life” is somehow usually shared – and the moments just seem to come.
If that is the case, that life is a gift, that it is usually relational, that it is unmerited and often a surprising by-product of unplanned moments, then how can I control it? How can I earn it? How can I orchestrate it? I land on the fact that I can’t. I have to be open to receiving it when it comes. And that requires being present in the moment to enjoy it. That requires being open, even anticipatory of the moments when “life” intrudes.
Often the intrusion is so quiet that, if I am not paying attention, or if I am working so hard to make it happen, I will miss it. It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I realized how special that head rub was this morning. Maybe, if I were more open, more anticipatory, I would find that “life” was being given me more often than I recognize. Maybe the gift is happening more regularly. Maybe God’s kindnesses come more than I know… Maybe I miss them because I’m not looking for them. Or because I’m trying to make them happen. Maybe…
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.
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