| ANNE WILLIAMSON |
Do this, and you will live. Jesus spoke these words in The Story of the Good Samaritan. It comes after the lawyer, "to test" him, asks, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" We are told upon Jesus' prompting, the lawyer offers an answer to his own question: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." Jesus tells him he has given the right answer, and then adds, "Do this, and you will live."
It's an ambiguous response. Given the context, we might assume Jesus meant the lawyer would have eternal life. And yet, in Jesus' final response - after he tells the Good Samaritan story - he says, "Go and do likewise," cutting offer any reference to life after death.
Is it possible Jesus, once again, hoped to shift perspectives? Just as a neighbor, through the story, becomes not who we serve but who we are, "life" is not some eternal destination, but here, now, today. We live not by multiplying our number of breaths but by multiplying, opening, this moment through love. Of course, we may want more literal breaths - especially for our loved ones - but it's not really the life in and of itself we want, it's the living.
It's the love. The love of this world's pulse; Jesus called it God, call it whatever you like: the music, spring air, her laughter, his warmth, that "Oh, my God" view, taste, smell, touch. This is the love we receive - as gift, grace, ordinary miracle. Living is also the love you give - increasingly, better, braver. It's being open to and moving into the spaces you are uniquely called to love - at home and along the roadside, for the sake of your friends and the bruised and beaten stranger, world.
It's up to you. No one will force your hand. But, do this, and you will not just have life, you will live.
Where do you feel stirred, called even, to live more, to love deeper? Take a few moments to be still and listen. What do you hear? ... Exciting and scary, isn't it? What can be done about it? What small, next step can you take? Or, perhaps you heard nothing? That's okay too. Keep asking the questions and stay open; the pulse that is in everything is in you too; it will come.