I attended Ken’s memorial service on January 28. Hearing about his life reminded me of St.Irenaeus‘ quote, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Ken had lived life to the full. What he contributed to the world and how well he loved could be seen on the faces of those gathered to honour him.
No one gave a sermon, yet the subtext was clear: know why you’re here and make the most of the years you’ve been given. I was confident of the first part but not the second. How can I ever know I’ve done enough? What if, in that final moment, I cross the threshold with gaping holes of wasted life?
During the day, I brushed away my fears, but at night those questions wouldn’t let me sleep. But God, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, was awake too.
God reminded of what happened in spiritual direction when I experienced Jesus looking into my eyes with love. Once again, I imagined looking at him. When I did, I knew that in the moment of death, he would take my hand and lead me from this world into the next. “I will never leave you or forsake you,” Jesus promised.
It was a comforting picture, but I still envisioned myself in the next world, looking back at this one with regret.
The next evening I was reading The Showings of Julian of Norwich. One of her showings involved a tiny round ball, the size of a hazelnut. She understood that it represented all that is created. She wrote,
It seemed to me to be so little that it was on the verge of dissolving into nothingness. And then these words entered my understanding: It lasts, and will last forever, because God loves it. Everything that is, has its being through the love of God.
When I thought of the fragility of life and how easily we dissolve into the earth, I felt a wave of panic. But then I read the next line and my heart filled with peace. I will last forever because God loves me.
The following morning, I prepared to meet a directee on Skype, but the video feed was slow. Before we could begin, she had to go offline, shut down her computer and restart it. This took about ten minutes. As I waited, I felt restless. Precious minutes of my life were being spent like coins in a meter.
But there was nothing I could do about it. God knew that. I thought of Julian’s hazelnut and how it will last forever. Then I understood what God was showing me: God has a limitless supply of minutes, an eternity of them.
I relaxed into the spaciousness. Not a minute has been wasted.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
–Psalm 23 (NIV)
* * *
Bianca Schiavone teaches fitness at my gym. She started teaching fitness classes at the age of 23, shortly after her first son was born. Since then she has continued taking courses, teaching, and training. She has completed two triathlons and competed in three body-building shows, making it to the BC Provincials in 2015. But none of this keeps this single mom from taking the time to coach her boys’ sports teams, help them with homework, and have fun with them. She says, “You can do anything you put your mind to. The key is to never give up.”