Being Matters

I’ve never seen a mountain be anything but a mountain, a river a river, and the sea, the sea. A mountain, a river and the sea cannot be unfaithful to their creation. They cannot be anything more or less than they are.

I’ve been told, “Be yourself,” but, do you know how hard that is? I think you do. There are a thousand voices inside and out calling you to “do this, do that and the other”. Of all creation, you and I have a choice to be, the “me-ness” of me, and the “you-ness” of you.

Very few ever take this courageous journey. Doing gets in the way as we fall victim to the lie, “You are what you do”.

“How are you doing, and what do you do?” Each time we answer, we live the lie, part of us dies.

The poet Rumi said it with ruthless candour: “If you are here unfaithfully with us / you’re causing terrible damage.”

You and I become unfaithful to ourselves, God and others when we place doing before being.

Let me ask you a very straight question: “How are you being?” Are you being the one God created you to be?

In Mary Stanton’s poem, “Now I become myself” she says: “… It’s taken / Time, many years and places / I have been dissolved and shaken … Now to stand still, to be here / Feel my own weight and density!” Jesus said it slightly different but saying the same thing: “You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth.”

But that is not enough for us, we want to do light and salt. Light cannot do light, it just is! Salt cannot do salt, it just is!

But, if for any reason light should try to hide, the light is lost. And if salt should lose its saltiness (which it can’t), the salt becomes useless.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Being comes before doing. You are the light of the world, let it shine! It is by being light that the deeds of light can be clearly seen. Here’s a simple test: look into a mirror, straight into your eyes; are the lights on or not? Is this what others see?

For when the light has gone from your eyes, the world will be forever in darkness. For unless the lights are on in your eyes, no amount of deeds will ever save the world!

Being comes before doing.

A blessing on Be-ing

Today you become yourself,
wearied by other people’s faces you’ve worn,
unfaithful to your divine image.
Dare to simply BE you!
The one true self only you can be,
May you feel the blessing,
and laughter of God saying,
“This is my daughter, my son whom I love!”
May you be blessed in your inmost BE-ING
May your eyes sparkle with light
knowing you are loved
and so be the Light of the World!

The Rt Rev Andrew Norton is the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. This is the second in a series of posts titled “Everyday matters” where Andrew considers matters of importance in our daily lives.

5 thoughts on “Being Matters

  1. Life for me is a matter of being – being in relationship with God and with others. The essence of that relationship is love. My favourite self-statement is ‘In God I live and move and have my being’.


  2. There is a tension here. Paul says, do not conform the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This transformation will not come about by simply being me. I am at heart selfish and self-centred. Becoming a productive part of a loving, giving, serving community is a choice that requires effort, a doing that is not simply being me.


  3. There is a tension between “being” and “doing” and perhaps Sabbath keeping offers us the opportunity to re-assess and address any imbalance. I am not sure we can talk of “being” easily because everyone is in state of becoming. What we are becoming is the question. Are we becoming more human (using the template of Christ) or are we becoming less so? Are we becoming greater or lesser people? Are we more loving, more forgiving, more open to mystery or we becoming indifferent to others, resentful of their failings, and rejecting anything other than quick solutions to profound questions?


    • “To be or not to be..that is the question.” When I think of all that I am doing I am busy, too busy. Is that what God wants for me? If I just be , then it is God and me and what happens next happens! And I am different!


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