The blessed life

Jesus took the most ordinary life and revealed it to be the extraordinary life we’ve been seeking. He did so not by changing it or promising a different and better version of it in the future but by changing the way we perceive it and enter into relationship with it. The blessed life we call the kingdom of God is not something God will establish in the indefinite future. It is the fabric of our daily existence, the potential in each moment, and it perpetually comes into existence when we choose to live in its present reality.

The blessed life is like a mustard seed, Jesus said, the seed of an invasive weed in farmers’ fields which robs nutrients from the soil and suppresses the growth, vitality, and yield of a good crop. Farmers in Jesus’ day tried repeatedly to get rid of it, only to see it repeatedly return and proliferate. Today’s gardeners might see it as a counterpart of creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea), the nuisance weed that aggressively infiltrates lawns and gardens and suppresses the growth of surrounding plants. Or if he had been talking to folks in the American South, Jesus might have compared the kingdom of God to kudzu. All of which is to say the blessed life, the kingdom of God, if left unattended, will proliferate on its own until it invades and takes over and there’s virtually nothing left that is not the blessed life. The blessed life, Jesus said, is like a tiny mustard seed. Though one of the smallest of seeds, it grows to become one of the largest of plants, where birds can find shelter.

The blessed life, Jesus said, is spread all around us, unseen (Gospel of Thomas 113). Or it’s seen and dismissed as worthless, like the mustard plant, kudzu, creeping Charlie. Like all the events and tasks of life we see as trivial or burdensome or distracting. But the blessed life, though it may be unseen or unrecognized for what it is, keeps growing on its own until it reaches full maturity, without our help, while we go about our daily business (Mark 4:26-28). It behooves us from time to time to stop and look, really look, at what our lives hold. The real voyage of discovery, Proust said, lies not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.

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