I knew I wanted to write something that would tie in with this day that I find remarkably sad and sometimes incomprehensible.
I’m not here to condemn or shun; I’m not here to tell personal stories because I don’t really have any that apply. I’m not here to be holier-than-thou, far from it. I’m here to simply share some thoughts. Do with them what you will.
If you’re reading this, you’ve been given a beautiful gift. A gift that doesn’t come wrapped in a pretty box with a big bow; a gift that you can’t ask for or write on a wish list. A gift that, in a way, defies the human idea of “gift”. After all, we define gift with some rather strict notions. A gift is something asked for that is received. Or perhaps, a gift is something bestowed out of love, with no asking required. This latter definition ties the idea of gift to the act of bestowing, as opposed to the act of asking.
But then I think of the song “Simple Gifts”, you know, that old Shaker melody. (Don’t get me started on Lord of the Dance that it begat).
- ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
Yes. Herein are gifts, bestowed (in a sense) not by someone but as a requisite part of human dignity and existence. Whether laws grant that one can be ‘simple and free’ or not, those gifts cannot be revoked. Particularly here in America, we like to be grateful for our freedom. Freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, freedom to gather on a Sunday morning to hear the Gospel proclaimed and the words of Consecration spoken. There is much for which to be grateful. I’m grateful for the sacrifice that Friday we now call Good. I’m thankful for the friends and family that continually teach me how to love more. I’m thankful for the institution of that great sacrament on the night of the Last Supper. But most of all, I’m thankful that I was loved and willed into existence and have been able to spend nearly twenty-four years enjoying the freedom, beauty, and goodness of Life.
For here is the gift. We, meaning modern society, have tried to perfect the art of creating human persons, but there is no foolproof formula. We’d like to think sometimes that it’s all just science, but we’re continually proven wrong. The creation of human life is complex; it’s indescribable; it’s unpredictable. It’s a cooperation not just between two human persons but with the Creator of all life, and no matter how much society attempts to break that bond, it will be unsuccessful.
I believe – I know – it is a tragedy that forty years have passed since the law said that ending a life is acceptable, as long as it’s a new life and not an established-here-on-Earth life. I know that my generation will never rid itself of the sting of abortion, as it ends the lives of children who may have been our classmates, our roommates, our co-workers, our friends. I know that it’s unacceptable, and I know that I’m not alone in this belief. Far from it. I know that it’s an ugly topic, and that even discussing it may put a target on me. I’ll deal. It’s an incredibly small price to pay.
What will you do today? Perhaps go to work or to school, or both. Perhaps make breakfast, drink some hot coffee, and go through the morning just trying to make it to lunchtime. I know that feeling. Maybe hit the gym for a workout, or run through the neighborhood in the afternoon. Maybe try a new recipe for dinner or bake up a delicious dessert, or watch some television or read a book or pay the bills.
Whatever it is you’re doing today, may I dare make a request? Do your daily work – whatever it may be – and each time you’re tempted to complain, or wish you were elsewhere, or wish you had something better to do – instead say a thankful prayer that you were loved and willed into existence. Take a moment to say “thank you, Creator, for this life”. Perhaps today is going to be the worst day you have this month. Perhaps something awful will happen to make you question nearly everything you hold dear; I cannot predict, but suffering is part of our human experience. At the risk of sounding trite, you’re here and able to experience life. That’s more than 55 million people can say. A staggering number. So, today? Revel in the beauty of the gift you’ve been given — a gift you did not ask for; a gift that was bestowed upon you out of Love. A gift freely given. This is how we show thanks; we appreciate the gift and make great use of it.
You are loved. You are beautiful. You are an irreplaceable Creation. Revel in the gift.