It’s eight letters with a space between two words. It’s said in passing, offhandedly, like a breath has left you – very often, waaaay too often. Most of the time only five of the eight are said, with a “s’ added at the end. That’s sad. It’s only said and received with sincerity when two pair of eyes meet. It’s only remembered with genuine gratitude when it touches two hearts. It’s commonly repeated after it’s been said to you, as though not heard the first time. Or, you reciprocate as though doubling the pot.
It’s always the checkout person. Why do preachers always use a checkout person as the loneliest person on the planet? The “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words” is said as you and your package walk away.
At nicer restaurants, we repeat it again and again to helpful waitpersons who constantly approach us. It’s said hoping by saying those – “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words” – will allow us to quietly enjoy our meal. At cheaper restaurants when the “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words” is replied, the waitress’ response is, “No problem.”(I didn’t think I was a problem in the first place! Doesn’t that suggest that the BLT I ordered became a problem for both the cook and staff?!
To God, the “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words” is used when what you asked for happens. Granted by God? Pure luck? The better girl got sick before the big sporting event and your daughter won. It’s said to the Almighty as though the Almighty, in His many preoccupations, occupied your small corner of the world.
Those “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words” slowly begins to be used with a cancer diagnosis when those patients tell me that the simple word “life” takes on a new and deeper meaning. Every month is a good time for saying those eight letters but November stands out. Remembering in gratitude those no longer here but strongly present in minds and souls. It’s also Turkey time with family and friends, except for this year. A November tribute for us all can be to think of those eight letters with whatever is valuable but taken for granted – in both things and especially persons.
The three-year old can’t wait to say those “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words” when her pony arrives at Christmastime. (Just try placing a surprise horse under your Christmas tree?!) College kid is waiting for grades to be posted before saying those precious “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words” even though study habits where interrupted at the neighborhood bar the night before.
You and I make those “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words” at the end of some favorable result when these eight letters are the very beginning and the very end of each and every day. And, especially said during those painful, doubtful, and troubling middle times that some days offer.
Each of our breaths ought to express those “eight-letters-with-a-space-between-two-words”. We’re never quite sure why we were created, or why eight-five years old ask why they are still here. We, indeed, are here in this specific time and in this specific space.
I extend my eight letters to anyone suffering, mourning or worried this very day; don’t give up. To anyone thinking they have the favor of God or who believes if I do this or that in the Church then that will happen; good luck with that. To all who finally admit personal emptiness allowing the Holy Trinity to fill that void; those eight letters are followed by “God bless you.”
I believe it’s all found in our breathing. No matter what. Life. No matter how. Life. In both the ins and outs of each breath, we humbly and proudly say to our Creator,