life is a gift

This week marked the 23rd birthday of the son of good friends of ours. Their beautiful boy passed away suddenly three years ago in an abrupt and inexplicable ending. This has been on my mind over the last days, as my heart continues to be drawn out in love and longing for him and for his precious mum and dad. 

Also this week, we have been holding the news of not one but two other friends who are battling cancer and facing chemotherapy. Again, our minds naturally search for explanations, we want to make sense of the news. But there’s no way of processing this, there’s nothing to blame, no room for logic or reasoning. These things should not happen, and yet they do.

There was a wise professor who taught on my Master’s program. You know, one of those people who brings depth and authenticity into the classroom in a way that slows everything down, that makes learning sacred. He posed a question that has stayed with me through the intervening years. ‘What are you doing with the gift of your days?’ he asked. If each day is a gift, how do I choose to receive this gift, to enjoy this gift, to render this gift worthwhile and valuable?

This week, I am especially in touch with the gift it is to be alive and healthy, and to share this life with the people I love. In the hubbub of regular living we don’t always think about our days like this.

When I reflect on all the days I’ve had with my children, days when I fairly flew from one activity to another, from one mealtime to another, from one thing on my to do list to another, I’m not sure I remembered to stop and consider the gift those days were. When I bring to mind the places I’ve been and the people I’ve spent time with, I think of the times I felt weary or put-upon, just arriving from one reality and already thinking about what was coming next. Sure, there have been times when I have felt privileged and fortunate, glad to be alive. But it’s hard to live consistently from this place of seeing life as sheer gift.

the gift of days

I’d love for you to try something in the days ahead. 

Take a walk, not because you need to get somewhere but just for the joy of being outside, somewhere beautiful if you can. Inhale deeply and see if you can get the internal whirl to slow down just a little. As you breathe in, become conscious of drawing in the great gift that is your life on this ordinary day. Reflect on the miracle that causes this exchange of life-giving oxygen from the air to your bloodstream. And as you breathe out, become conscious of letting go of all that weighs you down, that keeps you from living with joy, that prevents you from entering into the gift that is your life today. Continue walking, taking a moment here and there to notice the details of your environment that catch your attention. Every so often, become aware again of your in- and out-breath, allowing this awareness to return you to an appreciation of this day as a gift.

There are times when I am able to enter into this sense of being gifted a moment, a day, or a season. Checking on my daughter when she is asleep is one of those times. Her face softened with sleep, I put my lips to her neck and breathe in this moment, knowing the days run through our fingers like fine sand. And running in the early morning is one of those times. The world is still, the air fresh as though the whole earth were waking from a night of rest. I feel the gift of being alive, of being awake while others sleep; this gift of health and strength, so easy to take for granted, so longed for once it is gone.

I think of my friends, of what they would give to have just one more day taking for granted their hours and their health. It makes me want to suck all the juice out of this day I have been given with the people I love. 


How would you live if you were really in touch with the fragility of life? What elements of your life would become sweeter for you, something to be treasured instead of squandered? How would you live in your body if you were conscious that one day you would no longer have the same capacities you enjoy today? To what extent are you living into the gift of your years in ways that cause you to grow into a fuller, more complete expression of who you were made to be? 


Spirit of God, by your grace cause us to grow in our awareness of life as a gift to be enjoyed and shared with others. May we receive and enjoy this generous gift in all the ways that you, the Giver, intended.