The sparks fly within you, making you shed light in dark places, bringing light to those who have experienced darkness like no other, bringing a smile on the face of those who never thought that life could be so beautiful and fulfilling, and opening the door to someone who has been knocking on life’s door for so long, hoping that he or she may experience a piece of the kingdom of God when the door eventually opens.
There’s a commercial on TV about how early humans experienced fire for the first time. I learned that theory in grade school; early humans rubbed one stone against the other and then voila! - sparks of fire. That the beginnings of fire were as simple as that blows my mind. Was it by accident, or by design? How did that knowledge spread? How did it happen that early humans knew that meat and fish taste better when they’ve been on the fire? How did they even begin to fry chicken? Those little sparks that come alive when we rub a stone against another stone.
We have come a long way from gathering sticks, walking around half-naked, and foraging the forest for food to a place and time where the sparks that come out of us are meant to light a different kind of fire. This new fire is meant to bring to life the kingdom of God that dwells within.
Over the past several weeks, we have been inviting parishioners to consider supporting the Lake Elkhorn Middle School Supplies Drive. Yesterday, parishioners gathered at the Parish House and packed all the supplies that we purchased for the students at Lake Elkhorn. We plan to donate all the supplies to Lake Elkhorn next week. I cannot thank you all enough for your kindness and generous hearts. The sparks that light up your world and mine are only possible when we rub one stone against the other.
I am always touched by acts of kindness because that’s how the kingdom that is within you comes to life. I read a story a few days ago about a young man who gave up his first-class seat to an 88-year-old retired nurse who had never flown first-class before.
The old lady had hit it off with the young man at the airport as they waited for the flight. During their conversation, the retired nurse revealed that it was her dream to travel at the front of the plane. Unbeknownst to her, the young man and his family were traveling in first class. When the old lady got on the plane, she was informed by the flight attendant that she was to swap seats with a passenger in first class, allowing the retired nurse to fulfill her dream of traveling in first class. The young man made this retired nurse’s dream of flying while seated in first class come true.
Whose dream have you turned into reality?
I am sure you can tell many stories about the dreams that you have turned into reality or the many sparks that have been made possible because you dared to rub one stone against another. You have lit a fire with your own sparks, and I sincerely thank you for that.
I have always believed in the power of the goodness that rests within each of us. It doesn’t always come out the way we all pray that it does, but that doesn’t mean that it’s absent, unavailable, or non-existent. It is still present with us and within us, and the stories we tell about little acts of kindness reinforce the idea that we have something most sacred and powerful within us that desires to transform circumstances. We only need to give it the mouth that it needs to sing the songs that we all need to hear - even the uncomfortable ones.
I always make this point during homilies at memorial services: if you choose compassion, kindness, love, generosity, and joy, you will discover, in that choice, the kingdom of God and the eternal life that Jesus promises all who choose to walk in the way, live in the truth, and celebrate life in all its fullness.
Honestly, this is intentional because it is meant to draw us into a space where our perception of the kingdom of God isn’t so far off that it becomes unattainable or unrealistic. It is meant to make us aware that the kingdom of God is attainable, it is in you, and it only comes alive because of the choices that you and I make.
The kingdom of God that is in you is like a spark in the soul that lights up human darkness because one stone was rubbed against the other.
That spark is dedicated to a kind of goodness that is so near that each can attain to it.