Research tells us that the key trait of happy people is that they have a purpose. In short they “invest” their lives in something. During times of family illness taking care of our parents can seem a bit of a tall order. However, if you ask a “happy” person, how they are in life, playing hard too get is not one of their traits. rather, they will enthusiastically tell you of something they’re at or doing. It could be work, or maybe investing time in helping their parents through difficult times. All in all, as they will explain, it really seems to give them life. The essence of their happiness seems to be giving more than receiving.
It does seem that we are genetically coded to “flourish under fire” to quote the title of a recent book by popular psychologist Maureen Gaffney. She contends that we are meant to have well-being, meaning and purpose in our lives. Agreed, but how do we achieve this. Basically by dying to self and living for others. Something needs to switch this on.
Jesus speaks of a grain of wheat dying. What happens there? Inside every seed is an embryo that has a root going into the ground and a shoot going up. It also has an “on” and “off” switch. The time and soil temperature must be right before the “on” switch allows oxygen in water to come into the seed. When it takes in water, it expands, breaking the seed coat and producing sugar and proteins and ultimately fruit.
Something like that needs to happen to us. Maybe the outside conditions are not ideal in our faith community, in our family, in our life. Perhaps we are a dried up shriveled seed - but we are destined to grow and flourish.
We approach Holy Week. Next Sunday you may see your community gather in a different space outside the Church to mark Jesus entrance into Jerusalem. Perhaps you will bring your own green branch. As you cut it off this week from the lifegiving shrub it belongs to- consider this; what ways are we cut off from the life giving power of God. In Jesus we have someone worth living for and great enough to die for. Or are we like the amateur gardener, who bought the seed packs with those beautiful pictures of flowers…on those same seed packs. The seed, which was never immersed in soil, lie shriveled and dormant within its paper coffin. It would be terrible if our true epitaph at the end of life were to be a similar “returned unopened.”
Immanuel prays for us as we reflect; “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and does not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater. (Isaiah 55:10).
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends to help us open our seed packages and share the abundance of our life with those in need of your life giving understanding and love.