Burlington has its share of squirrels. These critters are fearless when it comes to crossing the city’s busy streets. Fearless, and clueless. But I find myself rooting for them, cheering them on, and even grieving when I see one of them – a little body lying limp by the side of the road.
You know the scene. You are driving and you see one standing at the side of the road. Their movements are quick … jerky … impossible to anticipate. Are they going to make a run for it? Will they head out, recognize the error of their decision and suddenly do an about-face? Should you blow your horn? Slam on the brakes? Floor it?
This is a frequent occurrence as one drives around Burlington. And every time the situation arises I am reminded of how fragile life is – not just for squirrels, but for all of us. You might find yourself in the path of a typhoon. The airplane you are in suddenly hits a flock of birds, and just as suddenly you realize you are landing in a river. With no warning, your house is on fire, you lose your job, the health insurance scene dramatically shifts.
I’m not trying to be a downer. I’m just saying life sometimes feels like we are squirrels on a freeway running for our lives. And when that is our “reality”, how do we experience abundant life – the kind of life Jesus says he came to offer us?
Buddhism is characterized by an acceptance of situations as they are. What can change, says the Buddhist, is our way of thinking about things. And that has the power to change everything.
Christianity offers this same perspective with one important added dimension – the dimension of “God with us”. This is both personal (i.e. an individual choice) and communal. God is with us because of the promise of God revealed so powerfully and gently in the life and teaching of Jesus. When I am on the center lines of life’s highway, struggling to know if I should move forward or go back, I can take a deep breath, know that I am loved, and know that I am not alone. Choices are important. Some choices are critical. But whether we choose “right” or “wrong”, there is a Presence with us that can initiate and sustain a peace within us. We are not alone.
Have a blessed Thursday.