April 21 – The Gift of Surprise – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
“Another name for God is surprise.” Brother David Steindl-Rast
While rushing to complete your dearest plans that you tell no one, you can bump into another and groceries will fly, and while picking the ketchup, you might fall in love. Or in your second year of college, while studying what Mommy and Daddy want you to be, you can accidentally open a book on Albert Schweitzer and discover that you feel compelled to go to Africa. Or, understanding geometry, you might decide to become a gardener, finding endless joy in creating landscapes. Or the death of your grandmother might open a side of you that is starving for history. In my case, losing a rib to cancer made me discover the Adam in me.
It seems that any moment of interest or pain, or adversity can surprise us into the larger totality of life, breaking our current limits and allowing us the chance to redefine ourselves in regard to the larger sense that is upon us. That we are opened – so suddenly, so often – is the way the soul unfolds on Earth.
We can never be prepared for everything. No one person can anticipate all of life. In fact, over preparation is yet another way to wall ourselves in from life. Rather, we can only prepare for how we might respond to the gift of surprise that often moves in on us faster than our reflex to resist.
Life is surprising, thank God, the chance to know Oneness, lives in surprise. For God is seldom in our plans, but always in the unexpected.