And not the bad?

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

  “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God,
and not receive the bad?”

—Job 2.10

How is it that within days we’re anticipating our son’s wedding, full of joy and blessing, and at the same time holding for dear life onto my sister who suddenly has cancer? Who pressed these two strange worlds to dance with each other? Sometimes it seems life pulls us in opposite directions at once, as if two gods have thrown us joy and sorrow, for us to find our way between the two. How different it appears our various realities are.

But there are not multiple realities, or kinds of life, or gods. Life is One, flowing from the One Source. It’s all gift. There is only blessing. It is an illusion, the craziness of thanking God for this blessing and begging God to avert that curse, as if God is tragically unfaithful—and sadly bipolar. You can miss your life judging it instead of receiving it, trying to pick and choose which parts of life are good or bad, which to accept or resist.

God is not so divided. God is all Love, not partly. God is all Life, one galaxy of stars and darkness, a Spring that gushes blessing, and from it flows a mixed and wondrous mystery that sometimes pleases and sometimes frightens us, but is always blessed and holy and radiant with God’s presence. Dread and happiness, rage and sorrow— these are not the world, but merely our reactions. The world is one gift, with deep beauty, sharp edges and infinite love. We are given the whole thing.

The good news is, God does not excuse herself from our suffering. The Risen Lord holds this whole tender, mangled world in shining hands with holes in them. It connects us to ask for God to bless the newlywed or the sick, but God is not waiting. God is already blessing both, already cradling both in pure, unalloyed grace. We pray, not to tell God what to do, but to open ourselves to what God is already doing. We pray until both getting married and getting sick belong to life. We pray until we are overwhelmed by the one vast love that is so much greater than our fears or desires that it transforms them, becoming all of who we are, transfiguring our very flesh. We pray until we know the One Love that dwarfs all love and loss, all joy and sickness, all life and even death, until we are filled with its life-giving life. We pray until all things are taken up in hope, and it heals us beyond our knowing

Death dances at the wedding. The happy couple welcome him; he toasts their long and hardy bliss. The blushing bride, the sorrowful mother, the man in prison, the running child: we are one, our lives are one. Unseen for now, the One Blessing transforms us all, our graves, and all the flowers on them opening to the sun. This I know: we shall all dance together, in joy.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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