Sometimes I read something that sounds like good news.  Kenneth Burke once wrote, “We might get he truest slant on ourselves by thinking of our lives as first drafts, as hastily organized essays that we never have a chance to revise.” (Civic Jazz: American Music and Kenneth Burke on the Art of Getting Along, Gregory Clark)

I like that thought. Every day is different. I am different. The people I am with are different. The historical context is different.  Change is the only constant and so each action we take is new. We are constantly trying to figure out how to make sense of our life and how to fit into world in which we find ourselves living.

And so, this is the first draft of an essay that we can never revise because life moves on and the next situation will be new.

I think this is why grace must exist. First drafts are often full of mistakes.  We can’t always say or do the best thing.  We are trying out ideas—some of which work out pretty well and others are disasters. But, tomorrow is a different day and if we are to live without the burdens of mistakes from yesterday, grace must exist.  Forgiveness has to be there to free us to spend our energy on today’s problems without exhausting ourselves trying to rework what might have gone wrong yesterday.

And the truth of Mr. Burke’s statement also points to why it is important to live mindfully. Pay attention to your life as you are living it because that life will never be lived again.  What is happening with the people you live with and love now will never happen again. Your relationships at this moment are the material with which you write the story of your life.  You don’t get a chance to revise it.

Grace and mindfulness.  Important gifts because living is always about writing first drafts.



It is amazing what gifts come to me before coffee.

I awaken, a comfortable bed and my wife breathing quietly as she sleeps. I hear a morning dove cooing outside the window. I throw back the sheet, put my feet on the carpet, stand, and can walk. I turn on the faucet and clean water comes out for me to wash my face. I wander down the hall of our little house, cool from the AC. I turn on the light over the coffee pot and take filtered water from the refrigerator which just keeps running. The water is poured into the coffee maker, sounding like a running stream. I pour the coffee beans in the grinder and as I grind them (for exactly 13 seconds) the warm aroma of coffee excites my expectations. I open the blinds and soak in the garden. I lay down on the floor to do my stretching and my body still works. I stand and stretch my muscles and sleep gives way to the energy of the day. I then go in the kitchen and pour a cup (then taste it to make sure it is good) and quietly take it in to place on the night stand next to my sleeping wife. I then go and pour my first cup of coffee.

Wow! What a life I have!!  I have only been awake for 20 minutes and already I have received incredible gifts. I am alive. I can feel the carpet on my skin. I can hear the dove, the water, the beans grinding. People who have worked on the infrastructure of my city make it possible to feel cool water on my face, to have electricity for cooling the air, to provide a safe community so I can live without fear. I can be stimulated by the aroma of ground beans. My body, while having some parts that don’t work as well as they used to, still is able to carry me and hold me and nurture me.

When I think of my life before coffee, I am simply overwhelmed.  For if I kept a log of my whole day, I am sure I would drown in gratitude. For the goodness that I experience is beyond measure. The gifts are innumerable. 

So, for at least a while now, I am considering myself a truly blessed human being.