The moment the elevator door opens on the seventh floor and I enter the treatment center, I feel as if I am in a different world from the one where I spend the rest of my days and nights. It’s different for a number of reasons: the place itself, my fellow travelers in treatment, and my own state of mind and spirit. Chemoworld, I call it.
Somehow, it’s January 1 once again. We have made yet another trip around the sun. I’m not one for making public declarations of my resolutions (although I do need to step up my walking and watch my portions once again…) but today I return to a question that might lead to a good resolution for all of us to consider on this first day of a New Year: How do we begin each day?
In the “music” of this all-to-hard-to-find silence, I began to feel myself drawn in the direction of the master composer and musician, the One who brings all to life, throws beauty over the world like a prayer shawl, and invites us all to “waste time with him” every once in a while.
My presence and openness to God, to the world and to those around me — and especially to those in need — defines me in a much greater way than the pride of my busy-ness. My silence before God labels me in a way far superior to the accolades for what I have accomplished.
We may be re-energized by a brisk walk or a exhilarated by a bike ride, but we also require the quiet introspection that comes from solitude, reflection or prayer, from placing ourselves before the world like an open lens and allowing ourselves to be imprinted by it all, like photographic plates or film, by what the world is showing us.
Gratitude, it seems to me, is the starting point for our lives of prayer, creativity and living well among others. But gratitude is easy to say and harder to live by because it’s hard work. Saying “thank you” to God and to others around us is the simplest thing to do and, yet, we so often forget to do it. Or don’t make time to do it. Or don’t make it a part of our daily experience.
It is, indeed, his Spirit that matters. “Spirit,” from the same Greek word — pneuma — that gives us “breath,” Jesus is leaving us more than a memory. He is giving us an indwelling of God in our lives. Never again will we be alone, if we are prepared to watch and listen for the Spirit’s gentle movement.
It was perhaps Earth’s darkest three hours ever, from noon to three o’clock on that first Good Friday, when the world was draped in a gray veil and Jesus hung heavy and nearly lifeless on the cross, his life slowly ebbing away and his breathing labored and weak. It is the man Jesus — the human just like us — who cries out loudly these words of hopelessness and utter dejection: “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
As we walk our Christian life, we are called to be more aware of one another. We are asked to “behold” one another, for certainly there are those in our life — whether we are aware or not — who are suffering and in need of our attention. Indeed, perhaps what they most need is for us to simply see — behold — them.
Jesus, instead, turns away from hatred, denial and retribution and toward love, acceptance and forgiveness: “Forgive them, Father…”