Mike and I recently enjoyed watching The Shawshank Redemption and today I was reminded of what Andy Dufresne said to one of his fellow prisoners, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies... so get busy living, or get busy dying."
What are you busy doing today? Living? Dying? It's a pointed question to ask yourself every morning when you get up. The directness of the question sorts things out pretty quickly and should make the daily choices we make clear.
This week I have watched people being busy with living: one is busy holding her head up as she waits and watches for reconciliation; one is busy recovering from cancer, heading out on a trip with her newly retired husband; one is in the midst of cancer treatment, but making Sloppy Joes for her husband as she skips out the door for a girls outing; one is another country, helping less fortunate children find hope for the first time; and one friend just called from outside her house to say she was sending me a picture of a praying mantis on her moonflower-- all ordinary tasks, all living with hope.
There are some days for all of us that are spent simply dying. We lose direction. We lose hope. We move through the day, respond to phone calls, think about what we should or could be doing and before we know it, we have managed to never find the productivity we longed for - the accomplishment of a well-ordered day of living, the article written, the meeting set, the proposal sent out, the contract finalized, the fall garden planted.
There is a verse in Romans that is a power source for living each day. It says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." --Romans 15:13
If you study the verse, it says "as you trust in him" you will be filled with joy and peace and the overflow from our trusting will fill us with hope - not by our power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Something is required of us. We are asked to trust in the God of hope so that we will overflow with hope and spill out into the lives around us, lifting and offering hope to those who might be busy dying.
So what will it be today - living or dying? Some days might be really dark, but I love what author Anne Lamott says about that, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come." Just showing up and trying to do the right thing is the most courageous thing I have ever done. And I imagine we sleep better at night when we have trusted in a greater source than ourselves, being filled with hope, overflowing to others. It never gets old or stagnant, but a constant flow of movement through our lives. Get busy now with your choice.