Twenty-seven years ago on this day, I arrived in Guatemala. This anniversary has always served as a moment of reflection for me, but this time feels different. Twenty-seven years means that I have lived in Guatemala for exactly one-half of my life.
What does it mean to do anything for half of your life? That sounds like such a long time. Fifty percent of your time on earth.
This morning I listened to a beautiful homily given by a beloved friend, Sister Kathleen Deignan. She unfolded the concept of the sacrificial universe, the idea that everything is giving its life force for everything else to become. “Everything lives because of the generous life force of another,” was a particular line that struck me.
We give of ourselves so that others become. I believe this with my whole heart.
We are in a continual process of becoming as individuals. We learn, we grow, we evolve. But we do not exist solely as individuals; we also exist in society. We are interconnected. Our lives are interdependent. What can my evolution mean if my community does not also evolve with me? This idea is at the heart of Martin Luther King Jr’s “inescapable network of mutuality”: “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…”
The future of our world depends on the recognition of our collective responsibility to one another and our collective investment in the well-being of others. The health of our society depends on us asking ourselves honestly, and often, how am I using my life force for good?
My existence is a result of countless who came before me, each giving of their life force to shape me and the world I live in. Admittedly, I am very much a work in progress. I’m often painfully aware of the glacially-slow process that is my ‘becoming’.
But today, I am grateful to be able to say that for half of my life, I have been hearing the ongoing call for connection and doing my best to respond by considering what I have been given and what I have to give. No doubt many times I have fallen short or, more likely, have missed the mark entirely. But I am always drawn back to trust this eternal wisdom of interdependence that longs to propel us forward together if we would only listen.
I recognize that who I am becoming has been indelibly shaped by the ways in which I have chosen to expend my life force in the world. And I am graced to witness my evolution happening in tandem with those sharing in my gifts and with those who share their gifts with me.
Maybe what my heart has been learning is this: the life force borne of others in the past is acknowledged and integrated into this present moment with the hope of positively impacting well-being in the future. As I become, we become.
Together we rise.