The Essentials

“For any spirit suddenly awakened to how deep its life, how short its stay.”
Mark Nepo

Recently, I was at a lecture on the Lord’s Prayer given by nationally-renowned New Testament Scholar and Vanderbilt Divinity School professor Amy Jill Levine. She said the gestalt of Jesus’s prayer is to live as if you have one more day before you die. Jesus is not being morbid, Levine said, but rather he is trying to help us to live for what truly matters.



After the loss of my friend Isse, I know poignantly how precious and fleeting our time is here. So what if this was my last year on the planet? How would I live it? What would I do and absolutely not do? Are there things that I would make sure I said? How would I insure it was a year of joy and deep meaning? What would my relationship with God look like?


Over the holidays, my family and I enjoyed the beautiful film The Peanut Butter Falcon. The hero of the story is a young man with Downs Syndrome named Zac. Together with a drifter/”savior” named Conor, he sets out on a “Tom Sawyer-inspired” adventure to meet his hero, a washed-up celebrity wrestler named, “Saltwater Redneck.” They face many a trial, tribulation and joy. After nearly drowning and being saved by Conor, Zac asks the question, “Am I going to die?” Conor’s response was exactly what I needed to hear coming into 2020. “Yeah,” Conor says, “You’re gonna die. Everybody’s gonna die. That’s not the question. The question is “Are they gonna have good stories to tell about you when you’re gone?”


At the end of the film, you have no doubt that people will be shoring stories about the amazing Peanut Butter Falcon long after he is gone. Why? Because he lived a life of courage, purity of heart and deep joy. He would have done anything for love, even given his own life. Zac appreciated everything that came his way. He believed the world to be beautiful and took setbacks in stride. And he never gave up on hope.


This could be our story too!


Instead of resolutions this year, I made a list of the essentials to living as Jesus said: A life that matters. A life of love given and received. A life filled with joy and deep meaning. A life with no regrets, only gratitude. A life that contributes in some way to the greater good. A life that is not rushed, but savored. A life that I would be proud of. A life that God would be proud of.


“The Essentials”

Love my family indulgently

Create a home that is a sanctuary for the people I love

Talk to God everyday, about everything

Read Jesus’s words

Be a good friend

Generously give people the benefit of the doubt

Write something beautiful that makes people believe God is with us

Spend more time outside than inside

Find daily joy in the small things, like my afternoon cookie and cup of tea,
talking to my mom on the phone, or making muffins with the kids

Regularly do something brave

Speak a word of hope to every single person who crosses my path

Flip my screen time from 80/20 to 20/80

Do things that make my body and soul feel good and loved

Not only forgive, but return some sweetness to the relationship

Be serene. Waste no breaths, mental space or precious time worrying about the silly stuff

Go on adventures, especially to places that have croissants and good coffee and dark chocolate

Giggle a lot!

Here’s to giving 2020 the best of us!


This is my favorite poem by Rilke. It is a perfect motivator to endeavor in 2020 the life God hopes for us!


God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Book of Hours, I 59


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