DIY vs. Gift

My favorite tennis player Rafa Nadal was playing a match on television, which I decided to watch live, instead of recording it. Normally, I record television programs and fast forward through commercials. So, I had not watched any commercials for a while. It was striking how many advertised that you would be thinner almost immediately with a particular pill or piece of exercise equipment. You would be more virile with certain medication prescribed by your physician. A jazzy new car could make you more attractive to prospective dates. Your purchasing power would be unlimited with a special credit card. All of them promised Do-It-Yourself improvements to you or your lifestyle overnight.

The self-help and self-improvement section of bookstores is growing exponentially. How to eat right, live longer, be spiritual, meditate, lose weight in three or five or ten easy steps all appeal to our sense of inner dissatisfaction and desire for control. We are constantly seeking advice. Is some of this a spiritual yearning, a longing to be whole?

Is wholeness a Do-It-Yourself job? Is it something we can help ourselves to by reading the right book or following the right Life Coach? What if we become the Chief Life Officer for our spiritual path? Will that bring us wholeness?

“Wholeness” is related to being restored to health, made hale, holy or sacred, in Old English. That is the etymology of the word “wholeness.” Madeleine L’Engle must have known this when she wrote the book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art:

“The marvelous thing is that this holiness is nothing we can earn. We don’t become holy by acquiring merit badges and Brownie points. It has nothing to do with virtue or job description or morality. It is nothing we can do, in this do-it-yourself world. It is a gift, sheer gift, waiting there to be recognized and received. We do not have to be qualified to be holy. We do not have to be qualified to be whole, or healed.”

We do not have to be qualified because we belong to the Creator, who has said to us, “I love you. You are always with me and everything I have is yours.” (The parable of the prodigal son as retold by Rob Bell, aka The parable of the waiting father) Healing and wholeness is a gift. You do not have to earn it. You are free to live as a recipient of this marvelous gift. May you live out of this awareness today in gratitude.