Unwrapping the Gift of Life

I was shocked to learn that John Boehner resigned today as Speaker of the House, almost immediately after meeting Pope Francis. I can’t help but suspect a connection.

Perhaps being in the presence of a Pope who lives and acts like Jesus himself made the Speaker question what he is doing with his life. I would like to think Boehner has recognized and renounced his role in advancing evil. But at the very least, perhaps he has realized that his days on Earth could be better spent than participating in a political process so dysfunctional and corrupt that it might be unsalvageable.

Yesterday I attended a healing service, where Mother Eunice said something like, “Humanity is not a problem to be solved, but a gift to be opened. What God has created is good. We are loved unconditionally and already have everything we need, if we would just recognize it. Too often, however, we live in fear, instead of realizing that all we have to do is ‘walk in love as Christ loved us.’”

When I was Jewish, I was deeply committed to the concept of tikkun olam, the idea that it is up to us to repair the world and prepare the way for the messianic era. But maybe that is not the case. Maybe we don’t have to fix the world. Maybe the messianic era could be now, if we simply tapped into the good that already exists all around us.

We can make the world a better place — at least our own worlds — by the small acts we do every day, by the choices we make in terms of what we put our energy towards and the people we form relationships with. Maybe all we need to do is “walk in love.”

The Pope suggests as much in his encyclical on the environment. While small acts of recycling, turning off lights, and not wasting food will not save us from climate change, they are not futile acts. Collective action is important, but simply living in accordance with one’s values and supporting positive rather than negative forces makes a difference as well. Most obviously, it makes a difference in the immediate world you create for yourself. However, it might also contribute to larger change. You cannot know how acting with integrity and authenticity might spread goodness. You might not see the impact, but acting rightly cannot be wrong.

In thinking about my own life, perhaps it’s time to say yes more fully to the Gift of Life, and choose to work (as much as possible) only with positive people, who have good values, who are trustworthy, decent, and enriching to the lives of those around them, and say no to working within dysfunctional systems, refusing to affiliate with treacherous people, with self-serving power mongers and the lackeys who support or excuse them.

And isn’t that how larger change is made? By building community with those who embrace life-affirming, humanistic values?

Each of us has the power to decide how we want our lives to be and unwrap the Gift of Life we have been given, and the more people who do that, the better our shared world will be.

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