Saturday, February 2


have I told you about the first great epiphany of my life?

every moment, epiphanic or not, has a stage and a context. for this one, it was the town of Raymond, Alberta during a dry Canadian summer stretched full of diligence, dotted now and then with spiritual and physical pains. I'd been comparing myself to some of the people we taught. people who seemed to have so little, seemed able to do so little. their struggles and addictions and illnesses revealed themselves to us and it was all I could do not to give in to a strangely unpleasant sense of prideful pity.
the whole comparative perspective bothered me, but I didn't know how to stop fixating on all the contrasts. me, so lucky and free from obvious debilitation, and them, so crippled and trapped in problems I could hardly imagine. I didn't think I should feel better than these people, but I did. I didn't know how not to.

I remember asking the universe and all my mentors at the time about this. there aren't really answers to any of the whys, but there are many ways of making sense of things. we have dozens of stories that seem to fit the way things seem to be. why is my life this way and your life that way? I don't know. but eventually, near the end of that sun- and work-filled summer, somebody spoke eight small words over a pulpit, and they became a kind of motto.

"gifts are given through us, not to us."

yes, it's got that rhyming catchiness that all trite sayings have. so what? the first great epiphany of one's life does not necessarily have to sound utterly original.

there is a phrase in German--es gibt--which means it is, there isthere are, and more literally, it is given. such a phrase, literally translated, makes me want to ask, "given by whom?" and maybe there isn't a way of knowing. the universe. god. each other. me. you. all of it. giving and taking and being and doing and becoming.

whatever ist gibt for me--everything that I am and all the knowledge I have and skills I've been learning to practice--none of it has been put here in my tiny corner of the universe to sit around on metaphorical shelves gathering metaphorical dust. if it only sits there, it may as well not exist, right? I'm supposed to use it. keep giving. maybe the idea of acting as a conduit for all those things seems odd, but it was this idea, wrapped up in a trite, rhyming handful of syllables, that finally soothed my privileged angst and distress. none of my luck or freedom was meant to belong to me. I am a conduit.

I was thinking about this again last week. something friend Phil shared brought it all back and reminded me to be grateful for all the excuses I have to practice sharing. to have excuses to give and opportunities for using your talents and stretching your brain and making things happen in the world, in the lives of people beyond yourself. I've had plenty and I'm glad.

es gibt. givens and constants and existence and responsibility.

you're already here. you and everything you are have been given. there is a lot of potential in that.

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