What is saving your life now?

Barbara Brown Taylor in her wonderful book ‘An Altar in the World’, tells the story of an old priest inviting her to speak at his church in Alabama. “What do you want me to talk about?” “Come and tell us what is saving your life now, ” he answered.

Brown writes: ‘All I had to do was figure out what my life depended on. All I had to figure out was how to stay as close to that reality as I could and then find some way to talk about it that helped my listeners figure out those same things for themselves.’

What is saving your life now? What does your life depend upon?

The art of life is discerning what is most important and then staying as closely connected as possible. It requires and open mind, heart and spirit to that which is life giving. It helps to recognize that life is dynamic and that which graces our lives with meaning may evolve and even change over time.

Mary Oliver is a poet who lives in Provincetown at the end of Cape Cod. Her neighborhood consists of a pond, scrub forest, beach and ocean. In her beautiful poem ‘Messenger’, she reflects upon what her life depends:


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

photo of blue plums

What is saving your life now? What does your life depend upon?

In Christian theology the word salvation is from the Latin ‘salve’ which means to be whole, complete. What is it that makes your life more whole and complete?

As the old priest asks: ‘What is saving your life now?’

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