Spirit Matters: Let’s be fully alive, right here, right now

It is a common trap into which people of faith can fall.

Life can be hard.

Our individual circumstances can be challenging, difficult and frustrating sometimes.

And sadly, some lives are one tragedy after another.

It becomes natural to want to escape it all, to long for a perfect day somewhere in our nebulous future, where troubles and pain no longer exist.

And so many prematurely “check out” of fully living their lives, their “one wild and precious life,” (Mary Oliver) in the body they’ve been given for a limited time on planet Earth, to focus on “someday” in heaven in some faraway place in the sky ...

But I don’t believe this is the way our Creator wants us to see things.

Divine Love would not have given us a unique, unrepeatable soul and spirit in this exquisitely complex body to simply wait for it to be over so we can go somewhere where everything is perfect, all the time.

The most compelling argument for this is, as Christians see it anyway, Divine Love took on the form of a human. Divine Love was born into this world the usual way: He learned to walk and talk; and worked and built beautiful things as a carpenter — most likely sharing quality time with his earthly father Joseph, learning the trade, laughing and carrying on, getting frustrated things weren’t coming together the way he wanted, but continuing anyway, growing in wisdom ...

Divine Love ate and drank; got sick and recovered; and took on the responsibilities that come with being part of a family, and part of a community. He walked the dusty streets of the Middle East, where he encountered all kinds of characters and personalities, and welcomed them all, even the deadbeats about whom no one else was concerned. Divine Love was not afraid in the least to call out religious hypocrites who placed impossible loads on believers to follow, while standing on street corners making themselves look holy, when they were anything but holy.

These religious hypocrites obeyed countless rules, but they did not, could not, would not, look into the eyes of their fellow human beings and offer any kind of compassion or understanding. Nothing.

Divine Love looked past the surface, and saw into the heart of every person, every living being he encountered. He used the elements of earth, wind, fire and water to heal. To me, that describes in a nutshell how our Creator views this intricate, magnificent world in which we live: Holy.

Holy, holy, holy.

Divine Love itself told us so much when he said “the kingdom of God is at hand.”

This wondrous, diverse, magical place we live is itself a loved creation of the One who made us. Divine Love would not have given us the Swiss Alps, the Amazon rainforest, the Mediterranean Sea, the endlessly fruitful Midwest plains where we live, rainbows, oak trees, lions, tigers, bears and SO MUCH MORE, simply to ignore it all and long for another day in another place.

Taking care of our current home, the infinitely beautiful, robust yet delicate, planet Earth, IS equivalent to caring for our fellow human beings, and our own family and friends.

And THAT is what Divine Love wants us to do: take care of our fellow human beings, and our own family and friends, in this time, in this place. In every way we can.

Every day we pollute, violate or hoard natural resources, we are essentially killing future generations. It is as simple as that.

No one knows for sure what happens when we die. Those of us who believe that Jesus came to earth, was crucified and rose from the dead, take it on faith that we will one day — we know not how, when or where — be fully united with the One who designed us, and all of our beloved family and friends in “heaven.”

But the kingdom of God is at hand now.

That is what Jesus, whom many profess as their savior, said. That is what he taught.

We can go to church all we want. We can sit there for hours and worship until our hearts fall out. But it seems to me that the greatest worship we can give our Creator is to honor that which has been given us, that which sustains us and those with whom we walk.

Taking time each day to sit in, to sit with this world we inhabit, to fully appreciate it, and be grateful for it, is experiencing the kingdom of God right here, right now. This is where we organically encounter the Breath of Life. This is where we find the strength to continue on, despite our sometimes-horrendous circumstances.

Right now, this eternal now that moves from one moment to the next is all we have.

And it is our sacred duty to be fully present to it and all its creatures, (just as Divine Love did while he inhabited a human body) as long as we are alive on this planet, which is also alive. Fully alive.

Right now.

  • SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines experiences common to the human spirit. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at jzblue33@yahoo.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.