Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Tree of Life -- and Holy Dissatisfaction

Today's reading from Proverbs has a verse I've thought about and quoted many times:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life
Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred -- haven't we all experienced that at one time or another? When I was single, I often hoped for a close, intimate relationship. And during that time of deferred hope, "sick at heart" was an apt description. But that longing was fulfilled, as was the desire for children.

And now, most of the time, I feel like I'm enjoying the "tree of life" described in the second line.

I just looked, and found that outside of Proverbs, the "tree of life" is mentioned in the Bible only in Genesis and Revelation. In both places, the tree is in Paradise -- in the Garden of Eden, and in heaven. Does a longing fulfilled, then, give us a taste of Paradise? Maybe so! One might imagine Paradise as a place where all good desires are fulfilled -- and, one may hope, bad desires purged.

Here's something else that occurs to me, though. This life is far from perfect. I'm far from perfect. Shouldn't I be longing for something that will be satisfied only in heaven? It's good to be content (Paul says that godliness with contentment is "great gain"), but bad to be complacent.

So, do I long for heaven? Yes, a little, because struggles will be over then. And we won't have to take out the garbage or clean up after the dog. Doctors won't have to use the "C" word; they'll never have to say "I'm sorry; we tried, but..."

But as far as my own imperfections, salvation for my friends, injustice in the world... have I made peace with mediocrity -- and with evil?

May God give me holy discontentment, a holy dissatisfaction with this life -- that I may long for all and only the things I should.

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