My sister recently posted this online, and i just had to share it with you. you may not be of the same faith as myself, but i think this lesson can go to anyone, no matter who you choose to send thanks to for your life. and as lindsey expresses, it is truly worth the full read. i had to read it twice to fully let it sink in, and once it does, it can change your mentality…that is if you are willing to see change in your heart and mind….
“This morning I read something that has truly reached deep, deep into my soul. It’s something that I think will be life-changing for me so I wanted to share it with you in case it’s something you needed today. I pray whoever reads this will be blessed by it! I know it’s a little long – stick with it to the end. I promise it will be worth it.” —Lindsey Johnson
Excerpt from “One Thousand Gifts” by Anne Voskamp
This passage starts with her losing her mother-in-law, and her father-in-law has written to her “Thinking on the beginning of this year, who does He call to come Home? Is it me, Lord? May I be ready. Or us. Whoever.”
Whoever. Ready for the end of here.
Whoever. Ready for the first meeting of Him there.
Will I have lived fully – or just empty?
How does one live ready, and always? Yes, ultimately, only Jesus. Yes, this premature dying to self, birthing into the cross life, the grace cocoon before emerging into the life unending. Without this Jesus, no, no one can be ready.
But, someone, please give me – who is born again but still so much in need of being born anew – give me the details of how to live in the waiting cocoon before the forever begins?
In my reality-dream, (dream-reality?), I gasp for more time, frantic for more time. But I have to wonder: more time for more what? The answer to that determines the road these so-short days take.
Hard questions drive me to hard distraction. I check email. More words sent this way, this time from a mother. Her 17 year-old has been diagnosed with, yes, specter of that word too real, cancer. I try to breathe. Today , it’s hard. What are the messages of God? Her mother types the words across my screen: “Any words?”
I stumble away.
Obviously, I have no words, no answers. I am groping for my own way. Desperately feeling along today for a way to live through this fleeting blink of life.
How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?
I stack the linen closets. I think of all the things I might never live to do.
I think of all the things I am going to miss.
My eyes will never know China’s jade-green Li River. I’m never going to see those black-haired boys under straw-brimmed hats fish off their bamboo rafts with the river surreal and dark. I am never going to be ascending the Loita Hills of Kenya to witness the dance of gazelles migrating up by the millions from the Serengeti. I am not going to be swimming the sapphire waters of some South Pacific grotto, or sitting up late listening to the wind whisper through the Sequoia woods, or spending my golden years scaling the summit of emerald Machu Picchu.
I run my hand across the thick of the terry towels. I’m a farmer’s wife. I’m the homeschooling mother of six children. There are no fancy degrees, titles, diplomas hanging on these finger-smudged walls. Are there places that must be known, accomplishments that must be had, before one is really ready? I know the theological answers, but do my blood and my pulse?
I remember once sitting at the hairdresser’s. The woman beside me read, and I read her title in the reflection of the mirror: 1000 Places to See Before You Die. Is that it? Are there physical places that simply must be seen before I stop breathing within time, before I inhale eternity?
Why? To say that I’ve had reason to bow low? To say that I’ve seen beauty? To say that I’ve been arrested by wonder?
Isn’t it here? Can’t I find it here?
These very real lungs will breathe in more that 11,000 liters of air today, and tonight over our farm will rise the Great Hexagon of the blazing winter stars – Sirius, Rigel, ruby Aldebran, Capella, the fiery Gemini twins, and Procyon, and in the center, scarlet Betelguse, the red supergiant larger than twice the size of earth’s orbit around the sun – and I will embrace the skin of a boy child that my body grew from a seed. The low heavens outside the paned windows fill with more snowflakes than stars, no two-stacked crystals the same; the trees in the wood draw in collective green breath to the still of January hibernation, and God in the world will birth ice from His womb, frost of heaven, bind the chains of the Pleiades, loose the cords of Orion, and number again the strands on my head (Job 38:31; Matthew 10:30) Isn’t it here? The wonder? Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it? Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur? The very same surging magnificence that cascades over our every day here. Who has time or eyes to notice? All my eyes can seem to fixate on are the splatters of disappointment across here and me. I close the bathroom linen closet. Pick up a brush to swish toilets. I don’t need more time to breathe so that I may experience more locales, possess more, accomplish more. Because wonder really could be here – for the seeing eyes. So – more time for more what? The face of Jesus flashes. Jesus, the God-Man with his own termination date. Jesus, the God-Man who came to save me from prisons of fear and guilt and depression and sadness. With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important?
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…” (Luke 22:19)
This. I live in this place, make porridge, scrub toilets, do laundry, and for days, weeks, I am brave and I do get out of bed and I think on this. I study this, the full life, the being fully ready for the end. I start to think that maybe there is a way out of nightmares to dreams? Maybe?
I thumb, run my finger across the pages of the heavy and thick books bound. I read it slowly. In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.”
I underline it on the page. Can it lay a sure foundation under a life? Offer the fullest life?
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.
But there is more, and I read it. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Joy. Ah…yes. I might be needing me some of that. That might be what the quest for more is all about-that which Augustine claimed, “Without exception…all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is, joy.”
I breathe deep, like a sojourner finally coming home. That has always been the goal of the fullest life – joy. And my life knew exactly how elusive that slippery three-letter word, joy, can be. I think of it then again, that night of nightmares , the flailing, frantic, moon-eyed lunge for more. More what? And this was it; I could tell how my whole being responded to that one word. I longed for more life, for more holy joy.
That’s what I was struggling out of nightmares to reach, to seize. Joy. But where can I seize this holy grail of joy? I look back down to the page. Was this the clue to the quest of all most important? Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo – the table of thanksgiving. I sit there long…wondering…is it that simple?
Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?
So then as long as thanks is possible…I think this through. As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning – now; wherever, meaning – here. The hold grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. the joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be – unbelievable – possible! The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.
I whisper it out loud, let the tongue feel these sounds, the ear hear their truth.
A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.
A threefold cord that might hold a life? Offer a way up into the fullest life?
Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy. Eucharisteo.
A Greek word…that might make meaning of everything?”