I tell her this as she sits in my office, my feet tucked up under me, a habit of mine that is designed for stillness but really just makes me fidget more, an unwelcome thing when I am trying to listen. I tell her how this past weekend, in between a flying back and forth and the worry that sat with me on the couch those mornings, my Bible open, my heart sounding a gong in my bones.
I tell the story like it is something I came up with on the fly but the truth is I’ve been out there looking for it for years, this answer that finally comes to me, a gong to beat next to my heart, in time with it: you are already alive.
You are already alive. You do not become alive when you get into grad school or when you get married. You do not become alive when you finally leave your hometown or when you make your way nervously forward to accept the Oscar or the Nobel Prize or the third grade spelling bee ribbon. You do not become alive at the next brush of hands or the next on your knees powerful prayer and you do not become alive at some distant moment in the future when the dishes are washed and the kids washed and the house washed with the light of some unattainable perfect.
You are already alive.
And me, too. I am alive, too. I am alive in the aching wondering unanswered. I am alive in the before vows, in the twist of the ring around my finger waiting in line at security, and I was alive before that, too. How gloriously alive was I, that last month of college when I named this space the wild love and when I sat in a bar and felt that I might be beautiful, those jeans and all? How gloriously alive was I driving home that night in the aftermath of it, listening to Bon Iver on repeat? How gloriously alive, in the still chapel reading me last May or the loud bright weddings where I watched love bloom or the times I sat here scribbling and asked God when my life would really begin?
I am already alive. Not tomorrow, not when the email finally comes, not when there is something better I’ve earned or won or by luck or by work or by begging I have that I didn’t have before. Not even the beautiful things, poems in crumpled pockets or sunlight after the longest winter or a move or a marriage or a child or a friend or a promotion. They do not make me alive, because I am already alive, and this life, this life is already moving, already a river is running through it, and the invitation is echoing across me, skin to bones to muscles in their gentleness:
will you be already alive?
This is the answer God gives me to the question I can’t remember asking, or perhaps there doesn’t always have to be a question for God to still give an answer.
Hilary, be already alive.