At Hand

February 1, 2023

Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. ~ Matthew 4:17, The VOICE

When I think of something or someone being “at hand,” I think of several things. The drinking glass on the table within easy reach as I write. I think of walks with the grandchildren, when they reach for my hand was we walk in a parking lot. I think of the way our dog, Kiko, asleep with one eye open, would lay on the floor between Rod and I as we ate a meal. When we were ready to clean up, one or the other of us would say, “OK”, and Kiko would jump up to follow us into the kitchen. At hand, nearby, even when we weren’t really thinking about him, he was attentive to us.

Jesus spoke a lot about the Kingdom of Heaven (Kingdom of God) being at hand. Not some ethereal pie in the sky or the sweet by end by, but here and now. It’s both a promise and a problem. The promise? “I will never leave you are forsake you.” The problem? I can get so involved in what I am doing, or thinking, or worrying about, that I stop paying attention to signs that the Heaven is at hand.

One thing that helps is taking a few moments as I prepare for bed to reflect on the day, when I gave or experienced love or grace or joy, as well as when I failed to give or experience the same. This practice, over time, primes me to pay attention, to recognize when I’ve been most attentive to God, as well as when I was least attentive to God. That’s repentance, a change of heart and mind.

An example. The first morning on Maui, I discovered a honu, (Hawaiian green sea turtle) nesting on the sand in a well-protected little bay. They are amazing animals, with shells anywhere from 3-5 feet in length, weighing between 300- 400 pounds and can live to the ripe old age of 80. They are a protected species, and a symbol of longevity, safety and mana, ( spiritual energy) in the Hawaiian culture.

Less than 24 hours later I spread the remaining ashes of my sister Carol in a tidal pool next to where I’d seen the now departed turtle, near a beach Carol loved. I was the perfect place, but nonetheless hard to do, a final gesture of farewell, done with great love and great sadness.

As I lay in bed that evening, I had both joy and sorrow in mind. Heaven was, and is, at hand. ~ Anne

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