“I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.” – John 17:4-5
“To be born is to be chosen,” writes author John O’Donohue in his book of Celtic Wisdom, Anam Cara. “For millions of years, before you arrived here, the dream of your individuality was carefully prepared. You were sent to a shape of destiny in which you would be able to express the special gift you bring to the world.”
I repeat the word quietly. “Chosen.” A chop and then a long “oh”, then the sibilant breath. The word reaches out for me with grappling-hook hands. Some green shoot rooted at the base of my stomach uncurls in welcome of it: “Chosen.” To belong. To have value. To have meaningful work to do in this mad world of too much uprootedness and too much stuff. This is the answer to the deepest prayer of my being.
Dare I live into this promise? Dare I follow the yearning of my heart and put my unique hand to the singular plow that seems to be my destiny? Might I, like Jesus, one day pray that, having finished the work God has given me to do, I await a return to the presence I enjoyed before the world began?
I think it will make a good Lenten discipline, considering this word – how it links me by all my DNA strands with my Creator and how it binds me in a sticky web with all the people with whom I share my world. Perhaps I will put it in my car as a reminder. I will pin it on the dashboard somewhere, a little black and white signpost pointing to a metaphysical destination: “Chosen.”
We have a God who recognizes us more fully than we even know ourselves. Before and more fully than we belong to anyone else we belong to our God. What need, then, for any other self-definition?
John O’Donohue is dead, killed relatively young by a wasting illness. Jesus was even younger when he was murdered. They have done their work and returned to the presence from which they originated.
Before the world had even cooled all the bright spirits were arriving, some to touch existence only for a breath, some to live the varying span of days allotted to humans and other beings. In the company of all creation, we each have a seat on which our name is emblazoned. It is beyond the compass of the human mind to comprehend such a thing. But it is true. Let me think about this for forty days. To be born is to be chosen.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado