The Greatest Gift
We are bred for caution. The daily grind of juggling deadlines scoops us
into smaller portions. We are productive and unsure. “Don’t go too
far” warn the springs in the back seat of the Chevy. Years pass.
Steps grow measured and voices restrained. Children leap for joy until
they turn cool and pull back into the hollow space.
In the film It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey’s suicide is interrupted
by Clarence, the angel who jumps into the river first. George throws himself
into the water, only to save another. By the end of the film, he becomes
what Walker Percy calls an ex-suicide. An ex-suicide, says Percy, differs
from a non-suicide. A non-suicide is stuck with life, “tired of living
and scared of dying.” The ex-suicide confronts the possibility of dying
and instead chooses to live. The goodness of being alive explodes around
him. Exuberant, he hails the grasping Mr. Potter and goes home to dance
with his wife. He doesn’t have to live anymore. He wants to.
Jesus was not a straight arrow. He healed the sick, welcomed
strangers, chided the powerful, cherished the poor, and often forgot to eat.
His family thought he had gone too far. Some called him mad.
Those who listened were never the same.
You pull us away from emptiness and give us back our lives. You tear
down the veils and invite everyone into the new sanctuary. Somehow
there is room in this tent for all. Only let there be no more killings.
One sacrifice is enough. You are gift enough.