It’s New Year’s day 2008. I am daunted by the need to say something really profound. Something that wraps up 2007 and puts 2008 into perspective.
But first I had to go get a coffee cup in the kitchen and I was excited to remember to lift my new book out from under the magazines.
It’s Frederick Buechner’s “Listen to Your Life”; a collection of paragraphs from his thirty years of writings split up into 366 daily meditations (one a day including a day for a leap year which 2008 has – did you know that?). I found it last week under a pile of stuff by the front door and I’ve been saving it til today to get started on a new routine. A daily dose of Buechner should be inspiring. Should help me to rise to my potential as I dump the previous day’s body-garbage.
My friend Janet turned me on to Buechner last year after I shared some of my autobiographical pages with her. He’s an American from my dad’s generation. He’s a pastor but his passion is the written word.
It didn’t disappoint. Here I was thinking I had to say something grand and wide and broad and Fred’s point was simply this. Listen. Listen to the moments. Pay attention. The simple acts - brushing my teeth. Feeding the dogs. Taking David to school. Putting in a good day of work. Enjoying lunch with a friend. These are the places where God offers to meet me, or not meet me – as I choose. Always present and never pushy. Always hidden but always offering a word, a glimpse, a memory, a taste of something lovely and lovable to encourage us.
God’s Holy Spirit slips a word in between the judgement talk that’s rattling on in my head like a radio in the background talking about the stupid things I did yesterday and how next time it’ll be different. God’s message of love jumps up at me like a little dog trying to get my attention while I worry about where the keys are; who’s doing what when, and who could be calling right when it’s time to get the kid to school?
The message is simply this. Life is a precious gift. It’s value is there like a carpet of gems i walk on in the dark. Forgetting to shine my headlamp down to where my toes are, i can miss the fact that – hey, I’m alive and loving it, or hating it, or bored by the distractions I’ve arranged.
Hey! God has provided eyes, ears, intellect to notice how perfectly, painfully, beautifully, truthfully, it all fits together. In such a moment I can taste the wisdom of a lifetime, of a generation, of the ages. God loves it when we listen. God loves it when I – this selfish, culture-crazed, man-child who is constantly distracted - just for a microsecond appreciates this place where I am and God’s place there too.
Thanks Fred. Thanks Janet, Thanks Creator of every nanosecond.