There is breath in my body
and blood in my veins.
my heart beats a rhythm
that is solely my own.
Life blood and oxygen carry out
their silent exchange.
Small molecules maintaining my existence.
Two words turn over
and over in my mind –
But I did not choose to breathe
nor pace the gentle rhythm of my heart.
I did not choose the colour of my hair,
my eyes, my skin.
I did not choose where or when to be born.
So what then does it mean –
Time will pass whether I use it or not.
The years will flow by whether I act and create
or whether I sit idly by.
My beating heart continues whether I reach for my dreams
or hide behind my fears.
To choose life is to dare to dream
and to risk failure,
to dare to love
and to risk rejection.
It is to see the waves;
to feel the wind on your face;
to taste the salt spray
and to risk stepping out of the boat.
Oh how I want to Choose Life!
I chose to use this poem today before I looked up where and when I wrote it. It is striking that it was written just over ten years ago on 22 October 2004. I was living at Loyola Hall in the UK at the time, working as a spiritual director. If you had told me then that I would be working as an academic chemist living in South Africa ten years later I would have thought you were crazy. Wherever my life was headed it wasn’t here.
And yet, here I am. The intervening years have required several risky choices. They have required risking failure and daring to love.
Most of all they have required living. Ploughing through minutiae, cooking food, commuting; paying attention to my inner process and being true to where I am; writing books, publishing papers, interacting with students; loving, laughing and listening.
I didn’t realise then how crucial the companions on my journey would be. I’m deeply grateful to close friends, sisters and spiritual directors who have encouraged me along the way. I have walked every step of the way, but I wouldn’t have made it here without the support.