Giving Back to Life

by Michael McGinnis

I'd been getting twinges of pain from a molar off and on for three or four years, but I kept avoiding the issue. A few weeks ago, the tooth became very painful and infected. I finally had to do something. By my past actions I had created this situation for myself, so I had the responsibility of resolving it, and learning its lessons.

The first thing I discovered was that I couldn't just check into a dentist and have my problem fixed. It wasn't like taking the car into the shop. First, I had to work to get the infection down. The infection swelled my face up greatly on one side, to the point where I had a very hard time swallowing even liquids, let alone pills. The local nursing staff got involved and put me on intravenous antibiotics. With their expert medical help, the infection was eliminated. Then it was time to see the dental surgeon. I was given a general anesthetic while the surgeon removed the tooth and sewed up a hole in my jawbone caused by infection.

The first day or so after the operation was uncomfortable and sometimes painful, yet I was glad to have had the problem corrected. I wanted to close the circle, by giving something back to those who helped me. I used 'thank you' cards to express my gratitude to them. This is a very small way of giving back to life, but it shows that you are aware of the help you've been given and appreciate it.

"Giving back to life" also means passing on to someone else something good that was done for you. After my car was towed out of various ditches and snowbanks by passing motorists equipped with tow ropes, I decided to get a tow rope to keep in my car so I could help others ... or some big truck without a tow rope could also pull me back onto the road using mine, if I ever went off the road again!

This summer I drove the Taylor Highway from Tok, Alaska to the Yukon border the road is much improved over ten years ago, but is mostly still gravel and little traveled. A large car was off the soft shoulder of the road, unable to climb back onto the highway. The driver, a lady with a German accent, wanted help. I didn't think my car would be heavy enough to pull the woman's car out, but I hooked up my tow rope and tried it. My car didn't have enough power and traction for this job. Just then, another vehicle came along an Alberta camper truck towing a boat. He had the weight and the power we used my tow rope and easily got the car out. My tow rope was my 'thank you' to those who had towed me in the past -- I had it so I could pass on to others the gifts of towing I had already enjoyed. Even when my own efforts to give back to life seemed inadequate, more help arrived so I was still part of the solution to the problem. Divine Spirit will work with you to help you be of help to others, if that is your wish.

We all receive so much from life showing appreciation and giving something back should be easier when we have so much. Yet those with very little material goods can also find the spiritual grace to give back to life through gratitude. I help support a foster child in Africa through Foster Parents Plan, and I was moved by her recent letter, which says in part: "As concerns us, we are quite well except that this year, the heavy rains have caused our mud houses to collapse. All the community of Lama-Tessi joins me to thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for me and my community..." It inspires me to see the bright face of gratitude in the midst of apparent ruin!

Each person is Soul, an eternal being living in a temporary body to learn how to live life better. As Soul, each of us has marvelous gifts of love and Spirit to discover within. Giving back to life opens the door to becoming ever more aware that, present even in our greatest or smallest problems, are gifts for us from God.

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