When is it, exactly, that we have enough? When is it, exactly, that our expectations are met, our fears are calmed, our desires are granted, our demand for justice is fulfilled?
A few years ago I wrote about a dear friend who was coping with cancer that unexpectedly returned after years of remission. Just when she thought “all was well,” life surprised her with a different diagnosis.
She and I talked on the phone soon after her diagnosis. I had fallen out of touch for a time; my doing, not hers.
Several things she said still resonate inside me. Her family had gathered to talk, in her words, “while she was still of right mind,” about next steps which included hospice, her memorial service, making sure her affairs were in order.
That was perhaps enough of a “wake up call” for me, but what really struck me was her cry of life: “I am so lucky! I am so loved…I hate to go NOW. I’ve told God that, if it’s His will, I’m happy to stay here. I think I’ve got lots more to do. I do believe in miracles. But I cannot even say how blessed I am. I have everything I need.”
I do not know for sure what God has in store for my friend who has always lived vehemently, passionately, lovingly, in the light. But what I do know is that she is continuing to make a choice not to be possessed by what is lacking, but by what she has been given. In the face of loss of physical life itself, she is embracing with arms and heart wide open what is in her life today–the love that is precious, given freely and exuberantly, by those who cherish her presence.
For today, let’s not be the generation Jesus speaks of in the readings as children focused on what isn’t while in the presence of the magnificence of what is. Let’s know we have enough; let’s behave ourselves “in the household of God;” let’s be joyfully humbled by how “undeniably great is the mystery of devotion,” and thank God, yes, thank God, for however long we have life, that we have had it at all.
Nancy Nickel is a former staff member of the Province Development Office in Park Ridge, Illinois.