I Like Life

On April 27, 2014, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

I Like Life Rev Dr Durrell Watkins Pieta…refrain…peace, peace, peace In gospel reading, resurrection hasn’t removed all pain, hasn’t lifted all fear…Resurrection is an on going process. And so fearful, hiding disciples are offered peace, breath, hope, encouragement, for another day of resurrection, a deeper experience, a broader view. Poor, gay, different, skinny Sick Coming […]

I Like Life
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins

Pieta…refrain…peace, peace, peace
In gospel reading, resurrection hasn’t removed all pain, hasn’t lifted all fear…Resurrection is an on going process. And so fearful, hiding disciples are offered peace, breath, hope, encouragement, for another day of resurrection, a deeper experience, a broader view.

Poor, gay, different, skinny
Sick
Coming out
Finding ministry
AIDS crisis
Horizontal violence, sexism, racism within the community

Life ain’t always easy, it isn’t even always fun. But it is powerful to be honest about that and still say with conviction, I like life!

In this Season of Life, of Renewal, of Hope, of Second Chances, of Joyful surprises, Christie’s affirmation, “I like life” seems powerful and appropriate.

Acknowledgement of pain, disappointment, difficulty, grief, or fear does not preclude realizing
that beyond or mixed with the problems there is also resilience, vision, strength, comfort, and moments of relief as well as times of exuberant happiness.

Duncan Howlett: “Life is worth living. It is good and it is beautiful, in spite of the tragedy with which it is forever beset. We glory in life, undergirded by the faith that its goodness is pervasive…There is no proof for it, no objective test to support [the claim that life is good], except the living of life itself, but this is perhaps the best test of all…And so we go on living the life we are given to live, knowing that is a good life, however difficult it may at times seem to be. And in so living we shall find…that life is good to those who live it with serenity and fortitude.”

Because we love life we want life to be as abundant as possible, and we honor life by choosing to believe it is worthwhile even when it seems to be burdened with uncertainty and challenges. And when we believe it should be good and can get better, we leave the door open for improvement to enter; and in any case, hope is more sustaining than despair.

And so it is an act of profound faith to say, “I like life” and “just to be alive is a grand thing.” Such statements are affirmative prayers proclaiming the innate goodness of our lives and the infinite possibilities that are available to us.

Agatha Christie’s quote reminds me of Helen Keller’s remarks, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of the overcoming it.”
And, “Never bend your head. Always hold it high.” (Bent over woman in Luke 13)

These are remarkable statements not only because they are optimistic and encouraging, but because they came from a woman who had to learn to express herself so eloquently without being able to see or hear! She was the first non-hearing/non-seeing person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree (she was graduated from prestigious Radcliffe). She wasn’t content to just overcome personal challenges, she was dedicated to helping others, taking up the causes of women’s suffrage and labor rights.

When this phenomenal woman says there is the possibility of overcoming suffering and there is reason to hold our heads up high, she speaks with an authority that comes from personal breakthroughs and achievement.

She seems to be reminding us that joy isn’t dependent on conditions and that life isn’t always easy, but not easy doesn’t mean not good.

In John 16 we read the author imagining Jesus saying, “In the world there is tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

In John’s gospel the author probably intends for Jesus to represent each of us at our best, or we could say, our truest selves, the Inward Light we each possess. So, the “I” statements attributed to Jesus are meant for us to claim as our own truth. Yes, in life, there are challenges, problems, and difficulties; but the Sacred part of us, our truest or highest or best Selves can in no way be limited or harmed by those difficulties. In the world, bad stuff (I call it B/S) happens, but only as much of that can be internalized as we allow.

I overcome the world of discord and despair and dismay as I recall that the divine I Am of my being is always in perfect harmony, is always whole, is never limited by conditions, circumstances, or painful or confusing events. !

These messages of resilience, of bouncing back, getting back up when we’ve been knocked down, rising with phoenix like power from the ashes of disappointment, or we could say, these messages of resurrection living, are echoed in Jn 20.

In the story, the executed but somehow alive Jesus, the life that is universal, eternal, indestructible and indomitable that is the ground of all being, the life of every life, represented in the story as Jesus (encouraging the disciples to not be lifeless with fear but to feel as if divine life was flowing through and expressing as them) “breathes” (the breath of life) on them and says, “Receive the holy breath” (wind/energy/life-force/spirit). This isn’t about believing that Jesus didn’t stay dead (John’s community would have simply assumed that) as it is about encouraging others to be lifeless with uncontrolled fear. Receive the holy breath, the power of life, a sense of indestructible wholeness (and then get back to living and helping others to do so as well).

That’s “life in his name” (or memory)…to remember that Jesus faced pain, suffering, injustice, hardship, but trusted in the goodness of life even if events in life were not good is to be inspired to live as courageously and powerfully as he did.

By remembering Jesus’ courage, we can experience peace beyond pain and hope beyond horror (“peace be with you”), and that is life in his name; that is experiencing the breath of life, the holy spirit.

Receive the holy spirit is a more affirmative way of expressing the psalmist’s prayer, “Do not take your holy spirit from me” (Psalm 51.11). The breath of life, of hope, of courage, of resilience is already ours (it is who we really are, it is the inward light, or Christ Nature indwelling us)…it is our choice to recognize (receive) it and live in its power (or not).

Luke (in Acts) shares the same message, but instead of Jesus breathing on them to fill them with an awareness of divine Life within them, Luke images a strong wind blowing through the house and flames bursting out over every person. A different image for being filled with the indestructible Life that we call God, but the same empowering concept.

The Apostle Paul, without the dramatic imagery of Jesus breathing on people or wind and flames appearing from nowhere, simply states what those other word pictures suggest, “the Spirit of God…is in you” (Romans 8.11)

The Life of God is in you.
“We are the breath of the ancestors; we are the spirit of God.” We are divine Life learning to remember our sacred value and divine potential; we are Life learning to love itself through human experiences, we are the indomitable spirit learning to trust our goodness even when difficulty threatens to distract us from that holy awareness. And as we remember, and live in the power of the remembering, that is living life in Jesus’ name, that is receiving the holy breath, and this is the good news.
© Durrell Watkins 2014

I like life.
I love the life that is mine to live.
I allow Life to be ever more joyful.
I give thanks that divine life is my life now.
And so it is.

 

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