At the end of each December, I think about intentions I may want to focus on for the next 365 days because I don’t like resolutions. However, I definitely like revolutions. That’s what these questions, What if? and Why not? help create for us. I always have the feeling that maybe, just maybe, I am on to something new—a revolution for a better and brighter world. Perhaps some of my imaginings will come true! It’s generally a hopeful and enthusiastic feeling—yet there is a caveat: It all depends on what I do. More to the point: It depends on what we do. Mixed in with this feeling of eager anticipation for a different new year comes a variety of life-giving questions that emerge as I imagine what may unfold in the coming months. Questions like, “Who do I need to learn to love?” or “What if I began to really listen to you?” And what follows in my mind is Can I really love or listen that much? And finally, the last thought is, Well, honestly, I have no idea—so why not?
What is a life-giving question? They are the queries that draw me into a conversation with myself, friends, family members, loved ones, and even potentially with strangers. They are a way to explore the thresholds common to all of us as we trek across this landscape we call life. Life-giving questions invite us to explore challenges, search for purpose and meaning, examine our identity, and navigate unchartered territory—its joys and sufferings, its love and despair, its peace and violence, its certainties and mysteries.
Even if I’m not successful all the time, it doesn’t mean I can’t entertain these inquiries, chew on them for a while, and begin my revolution. The better world I long for, the better world I need, is most likely to come into being if I live my way into these questions, as well as the answers that come. Yet I can’t do it alone. We must act our way into these questions—not just shift our thinking and pray or speak different words. We must do whatever answer emerges if this better world is to come into being.
Sufi poet Hafiz wrote, “My Beloved said, ‘My Name is not complete without yours.’ I thought, ‘How could a human's worth ever be such?’ And God, knowing all our thoughts—and all our thoughts are innocent steps on the path—then addressed my heart. God revealed a sublime truth to the world when he sang, ‘I am made whole by your life. Each soul, each soul completes me.’”
What if I welcomed these life-giving questions into my heart and mind in order to be made whole by your life? Why not close my eyes and leap? Leap into the unknown, the light, the dark, the joy, the suffering? What if I were able to sit across from you and listen closely to your counsel for me? What if the guidance you offered me drew me nearer to you? What if I disagree with you and still allow myself to be changed by you? What if I act on the passion that stirs inside me, even if I don’t know how? What if I acknowledge our faltering humanity and continue to reach out toward one another because my soul knows our inherent goodness?
Why not ask yourself these questions? Why not ask them with others? Start your new year with a revolution for a better world that is emerging. Here are some what ifs to ponder.
What if you:
... connect your heart to mine, to all that I am, and find your strength there?
... embrace your sorrows with mine so that we might each experience solace?
... listen to my concerns and fears as a devoted, faithful companion in this life?
... join your prayer with the world as an expression of the hope that we might give ourselves more fully?
... take on another’s desires and responsibilities in order to know a generous spirit in the world?
... delight in my joys, and I in yours, so we may be comforted together when difficult times arise?
... embody the peace that surpasses all understanding, in order to awaken, nurture, and sustain a world desperate for the endless song of light and hope?
Why not live into these questions? Through your revolution, a better world is coming into being. We are the dawn after the longest, darkest night. We are the splendor peaking its face over the horizon each morning. We are the vivid, colorful eternal source of hope during the darkest moments in our world. We rise more resplendent, dazzling, and brilliant than the flaming, fiery sun each morning. We are the infinite possibilities shining down on the world, lighting the way. We are the restoration of our original goodness.