The cool California evening was lit by stars, and slowly as I walked down the dark dirt road my eyes adjusted to the dark. I was looking for a good place to step off the road and get a good view of the stars, and I found myself in a brushy field after climbing a small embankment to this end. As I gazed up and around me my heart was cut by the sheer glittering beauty of the sky around me.
After feeling overwhelmed for a few moments I emptied my pockets and knelt to the ground. And after a few more moments of being overwhelmed still, I lay face down in the patch of dirt I was in and began talking out loud, not sure if I was praying, or talking to myself, or talking to no one, or perhaps all three.
I am dust. I am an insignificant particle in the fabric of an intensely giant universe. I am unworthy. Yet I am also worthy. This amazing, beautiful, chaotic, stunning creation was made for me. But why? I don’t deserve any of this. But it doesn’t matter if I deserve it or not, it is a gift to me. And I receive it as a gift. It doesn’t matter if I understand why, or if I deserve it. Everything is a gift. All that matters is how I receive the world, creation, my life, my body, my circumstances. My pain, my suffering, my joy, my hope, my love; it’s all a gift. I am a gift, a pitcher full of God’s grace and love to be poured out into the world as a gift to others. That’s why I have hands, they are a gift to play music for other people, to cook people wonderful food, to caress my love, to hold children with. Hard circumstances, difficult people, close friends, brothers and sisters, every one of them is a gift to me: to teach me, to strengthen me, to stretch me, to help me, to love me. Even the people who frustrate me are a gift. Even the pain and suffering are a gift.
At this point in my prayer I was pacing around my little dirt patch listing off everything and everyone I could think of and seeing them as gifts. I stopped and looked up at the sky again. Have you ever been in a place with so little light pollution that you can really see all the stars? I’ve talked about stars in the night sky many times before in poetry and songs, but I think that it has become a cliche to me, because when I gazed around me I felt a throbbing pang of awe run through me at the beauty. What an amazing gift this world is, this life is. I pray that my heart is always open enough to receive everything that is poured into it, and to receive it well and pour it back out again.
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