Towards the end of her life whenever we asked my grandmother how she was she would often reply “Well I’m still here.” I was never sure whether she was pleased or disappointed to be ‘still here’!
The hiatus of the last eighteen months has made me reflect upon life and what is important about it. What is the difference between being here and being alive?
Think about your breathing. Just take a moment and place your hand on your chest and feel each breath you take. At one level it is an electromechanical action over which you have no control. At you birth you did not make a decision to start breathing and at the end of life you do not decided to stop breathing. It is merely a function of your body.
Place you hand on your chest again and when you take your next breath remember that each breath is a gift of love. Each breath we draw reveals the power of love. For the most part, we don’t realize this. We just go about our busy lives. But for those who know how to listen, the existence of every single thing in this cosmos sings, “Love is at work here.”
That we came into this world and that we depart this life teaches us this crucial lesson. No person or animal or plant or inanimate thing brings itself into existence. Everything owes its existence to something else.
Okay, you might say, “Well, I’m here because my parents wanted a baby.” And that’s may well be true for you. But stretch the point a bit. Ask what one philosopher asked as the most basic question. Why is there something rather than nothing? (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz). As Christians we would say that we are something because of the love of God.
To exist is to be held, to be tenderly sustained, by God’s love. And to do more than merely exist—to really live—means to give that love away.
Jesus told his friends something like that on the night before his crucifixion. He said to them that he is the True Vine, and they are the branches.
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
We are here, on this planet, because we are loved. We are to take hold of the life we have been given and to bear much fruit. The creative love of God gives us existence, the redeeming love of Jesus gives us life and we have to give that love away just as it has been given us. As a gift.
Grace and peace to you, Alan.