“So – true story – I’m walking down Jefferson Blvd. and this old, long gray-haired hippie dude…leaps out of the bushes and grabs me by the lapels…and he shouts at me, “You won! You won, my friend! You won!”… I said “What did I win?” The old man cackled “Hah! Don’t you know?! You won the Cosmic Lottery!” “Cosmic lottery? Uhhhh…I don’t recall buying a ticket for that one” I said… “Yes! Yes! That’s it! The Cosmic Lottery: None of THIS had to be, yet it is! YOU didn’t have to be, yet you are! You won!”… “All you have to do to collect is recognize how much it’s worth, and then give it all away.”
It’s not your everyday encounter writer John Monczunski relates in the above Facebook post; being confronted by a wild man shouting what appears to be nonsense, but what may also be understood as a prophetic utterance, is indeed a rare experience. We are not likely to be accosted by a deranged stranger, but hopefully we will somehow be made aware that we, too, without realizing our good fortune, have won the Cosmic Lottery that is life,
“None of THIS had to be, yet it is! YOU didn’t have to be, yet you are!” How amazing is it to be alive, and to be the person we happen to be? Whether you believe in creationism or evolution, reality, even with all its imperfections, is pretty sacred stuff. We have won, we are here, we’re alive, we are!
The old hippie topped off his “you won” declaration with this piece of wisdom: “All you have to do to collect is recognize how much it’s worth, and then give it all away.” Seems simple enough, but simple can be difficult. We don’t collect our winnings by winning. We don’t make the most of life by striving for and achieving material success and then pocketing our hard-earned wealth. We cash in on our winnings when we realize the value of life – its significance, its sacredness, its mystery; we win when we are open to the wonder of it all. And we “give it all away” when, by how fully we live and how compassionately we care, we share with others our appreciation and excitement for having “won.”
The paradox at play here is that we always get more than we give. For every act of kindness, for every word of encouragement, every time we speak or act on behalf of the lost, the least, and the last, we receive a hundred fold in return. We have indeed won the Cosmic Lottery, now the challenge is to live it, and to give it all away.