Observation – Healing Life – One Gaze and Step at a Time

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Mother of God of Tenderness – Icon – Written by Caroline Furlong.See more beautifully related artwork at The Episcopal Church and Visual Art‘s “Worship The Lord in the Beauty of Holiness exhibit.

Observation is the initiating step in launching a process of change, transition, or transformation. A person, group, organization or community who determines that they are committed to fulfilling a (shared) purpose can’t just jump in and do it. Well she,he, or they can. It is very likely that they will, in Bette Davis’ words, enjoy a bumpy night.

Transforming ourselves and the communities around us requires some mindful, ritualistic, preparation. It is essential to become clear about what it is we’re undertaking and what we’re willing to lose and endure for the sake of our vision.

As The School of Life suggests, bad decisions are often predictable because we make them due to a lack of significant, discerning perspective. Jesus calls this one out too. He reminds his listeners to seriously consider the costs of becoming his disciple. (Luke 14: 25-34)

Check out this School of Life video:

This video reminds me that it is important to consider how “perfection is often the enemy of good enough.”

I prefer choosing to enter into the chaos of becoming someone or something better than I was when I woke up this morning.  Such quests demand contemplation and action. We must develop, devote, and deliver time, energy, and wisdom into refining and rebirthing our processes of observation. I found myself podcasting about this topic last Friday.  I preached on the topic on Sunday.

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Photo pinned by  Sarah Herbots. Listen to Jordan Peterson‘s Slaying the Dragon Within Us podcast.

Here are suggestions for your consideration regarding how to become a better observer of your life’s circumstances, personal/organizational well-being, spiritual/professional sanity and becoming more successful. Skip to Summing it up if you don’t want to read each suggestion.

  1. Two important reminds from my time in the Air Force.
    • Develop a keen sense of Situational Awareness.
    • Map the Process before you embark upon changing it. (This applies to spiritual practices such as prayer as well as for redesigning an assembly line).
  2. Courage shape how we observe and occupy our sphere of influence in the world.
    • Observation, not seeing – initiates our pilgrimage as a human being.
      1. Read All The World We Cannot See.
      2. Some of the most aware human beings in history were physically sightless.
    • Self-awareness is essential if we yearn to live divinely inspired lives.
    • Our shadows are equally if not at times more important than our strengths.
  3. We are wholehearted and complex beyond our capacities to understand ourselves without imagination and logic.
    • Life requires observing how we navigate the boundaries between chaos and control.
    • Each of us possesses a unique spark/essence of The Divine.
  4. Peterson suggests that each of the hundreds of moral choices we decide upon has profound consequences.
    • We therefore should develop a disciplined manner of observing how we think, what we say, and how we act (and why).
    • Observing our process of decision making will shake up our assumptions of when and why we choose to do what we do.
    • Set a goal to identify self-imposed and/or undeserved suffering.
  5. The term observation’s etymology dates to the 10th Century Latin term “observare.” It means to heed or attend to somebody, something.
    • 14 Century Old English word became ‘observen.’ It means ‘to hold to’ or ‘adopt a manner of life.’
      • To attend to – practice.
    • These definitions broaden as well as tighten the scope of living a spiritually and professionally astute life.
  6. The first step of the scientific model is to observe something leading to a question as well as a hypothesis of what is going on.
    • My spouse – an epidemiologist and priest offers these awesome observational tools.
      • Be curious habitually about patterns and mechanisms.
      • Value the joy and confusion that is naturally associated with new discoveries and further curiosities.
      • Become self-aware – look inward toward biases, assumptions.
  7. If you devote the energy and committed the resources to bring about profound change then you possess what you need to focus the lenses of your observational skills upon whatever it is that is most urgent and important.
  8.   We are vulnerable, all-ways. Vulnerability should lead to exploration rather than flight.
  9. What virtues, skills can you offer that will reduce your own suffering as well as the suffering beyond yourself.
    • Jesus Christ’s purpose for coming into his disciples lives and ours  is to motivate all of us to become more divine -thru humility, sacrifice, and new birth..
      • Redeem life
      • Share virtues especially when such acts will reduce pain and provide joy.
      • Read the story of Jesus’ encounter with The Bent-over Woman.

Summing it up – Become intentional about responding in contrast to reacting.  Be curious rather than judgmental – prudent rather than impatient.These guidelines are especially true when there’s time and space available to Put First Things First.

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Archway – Ancient Monastic Building  – Lindisfarne Island – Photo by Jim Strader-Sasser

In closing I’ll offer you one of my transformational and observational “first things” as an example.  I’ve been observing and farming Monarch butterflies for the past three summers. Why? First, monarch butterflies are dying by the millions across the United States. Selfish and foolish human beings, as with so many other species, are responsible for killing these beautiful creatures. California’s monarch butterfly numbers are at an all-time low, having declined more than 85 percent from 2017, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Overall, the North American monarch butterfly population has shrunk by more than 90 percent in the past two decades.

Personally, I’m fascinated by these 400-million year-old insects. Metamorphosis happens throughout the process – especially in the chrysalis. The caterpillar’s old body parts are burning up as they undergo a remarkable transformation. I’m intrigued by their month-long process of being birthed as a small egg, wandering methodically through their caterpillar stages, and ultimately transforming into a beautiful butterfly. Christians along with dozens of other spiritual-religious communities observe butterflies as being symbols of hope and resurrection. Observing this process requires developing keen gifts of observation. Patience is virtuous. The virtue of awe is captivating.

Observing butterflies teaches me to spend time in the balcony. (Heifetz) I  develop questions based upon sensory discernment. I learn to document my observations before analyzing them. This engagement become a third eye process of enlightenment, Spending time around the milkweed and butterfly bushes is a portal toward greater spiritual development. I don’t know what I don’t know. Thus, I must seek objective wisdom. Selfishly, I giggle and smile alot while all of the butterflies and bees perform their flying circus acts in my backyard.

 

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Photo and amazing article about monarchs created by M. Rei Scampavia

The monarchs’ evolution also teaches me more about the art of observation.  Monarchs use their large, compound eyes to track the sun’s position in the sky, combining the information with the time of day to know where to go. These clever insects also tap into their internal body clocks, based on the rhythmic expression of key genes that maintain a daily pattern of physiological processes and behavior.

I experience great joy and a new meaning of life by living into the monarch’s story. These butterflies reminds me to recall life’s miraculous nature. Their presence prompts me to stop, observe,breathe, learn, and respond. I just might promote the world’s healing by doing my part to preserve these beautiful bugs. Observing them change from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly deepens my faith in a loving, gracious God whose design is embedded within life’s web.

My personal choices along with yours have huge ramifications in terms of whether or not this and future generations of butterflies, plants, and animals, and human beings will survive. What goes on in my garden strengthens my will to become more of an advocate for nurturing this fragile planet that we are radically harming. We participate in the womb-tomb-rebirthing cycles of life. Do we wish to choose to be executioners because we don’t take the time to observe the consequences of our actions and our governments’ resistance to acknowledging the truth? Seek, Observe, Find, Open The Doors. (Luke 11: 9-10).

I’ll  close with this video.

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Blessings along The Way, Jim

Curious for Courage

Artist’s Credit – Transfiguration (Oil on Canvas painting) by Hazel Bartram-Birchenough. View this art and other artwork at the Episcopal Church and Visual Art‘s “Worship The Lord in the Beauty of Holiness” Exhibit.

I published my most recent podcast episode on CircuOsity, I’m Curious about Courage. I was inspired by some events that happened last week, including Glenda Cedarleaf’s Morning Courage meditation. (on Insight Timer).

Glenda pointed out an important quote by E.E. Cummings . Cummings wrote:

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

Cummings, as a non-traditional poet, understood this truth more closely than most of us.  It takes courage to become someone that you should be and fear becoming.  Brene’ Brown  suggests rightly that:  “To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”

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I don’t consider myself as being all that courageous. I still revert back to the fears and tribulations of coming out as a gay man and the struggles of being married as a gay couple.  My inner critic enjoys raising up those disturbing thoughts rather than instead focusing on how those and other cruciform moments have impacted me to become more wholehearted, authentic, and truly close to who I should become rather than who I’ve been.

Here’s some of what I’m observing and learning about courage.  It is through my intentional use of my VIA Institute on Courage Character Strengths that I’m gaining some wisdom about why and how our world needs more courageous leaders. More specifically, I may not be all that brave; yet, I do love to learn and I’m creative when I’m motivated to lead. As a faithful and collaborative person, I am becoming increasingly objective about incorporating Circle Way and Way of Love skills and practices in order to become more comfortable with being vulnerable and less anxious.

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Pinnacle at The Giant’s Causeway – photo by Jim Strader-Sasser (September 2018)

Let me offer a bit of a roadmap towards how you and I may become more authentically who we are as we grow into the human being we should become and live into The Divine’s will for our lives.

  1. Courage – resides at the core of our pilgrimage as a human being
  2. What do we put in our backpack for the journey. What will serve as compasses for when we become lost, deserted, or otherwise feel separate from the Ground of Our Being.  Here are some “Must-Haves.”
    • Sense of Purpose
    • Devoted and rigorous rituals of Planning/ Prayer
    • Who is going with me? (Beloved Friends)
    • Identifying and remembering Driving Forces/Restraining Forces.
    • Lots of Contemplative Silence (I recommend this chime).
  3. Each of us possesses a unique spark/essence of The Divine.
    • Our essence (shard of light) is uniquely ours and cannot be extinguished.
    • I have a capacity in my soul for taking in God entirely. I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and presence of God.  (Eckhart – Sermon on the nearness of God)
  4. The illusions of our ego and mortal wounds and experiences act both as resisting and driving forces.
    • Jesus teaches us that our deepest grief and treasure cohabitate and nurture our life’s purpose – (Luke 12: 22-34)
    • Listen to Steven Colbert and Anderson Cooper’s conversation about this hard yet essential truth
  5. How we contemplate and act upon these truths shapes our journey into a deeper and more authentic realization of ourselves.
    • The Divine is (un)knowingly closer to us that we believe.
    • We are ever connected to The Source of our Lives just as that same Source is working out its purpose through us.
  6. The Circle Way informs us that the essence of our conversations with our own selves and other people must be about listening and speaking in honest, attentive ways.
    • What will we consider, do, contemplate, and adapt courageously?
    • The Sacred relationships that we have with ourselves, The Divine, and our beloved family and friends equip us to accept each day’s regenerative endeavors.
  7. Courage requires resolve, and re-creation.
    • We resolve to undertake the pilgrimage.
    • Society’s comforts, for those of us who live generally leisurely lives, are impactful and frequently delaying or deterring us from the journey.
    • Secular habits may inhibit us from undertaking the pilgrimage toward our soul’s deepest desires.
    • Life’s daily responsibilities along with our ego’s yearning for worldly success also offer resistances.
  8. Procrastination based upon previous experience and errors is another reason for not embarking upon the spiritual and practical quests of our human existence.
    • Resolve is much more than wishing something to be true.
    • Resolve requires much more of us than we can muster under normal conditions.
  9. We re-create ourselves constantly as we engage in our life’s work.
    • Re-creation happens thru a step by step maturing process.
    • Life’s teachers arrive when we are ready for them.
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In summary, courageous human beings ritualistically contemplate what they are learning. This is an intentional initiative. They encounter pain and suffering an accept it, truthfully. (Watch this Lewis Howes interview with Jordan Peterson). Courageous leaders let go of anything that is unhelpful while engaging in experiments that provide paths toward maturity.

In my podcast I offer listeners (and you readers)

  • Why are you on this planet?
    • What gifts do you have that you’ve not fully developed?
    • What do you offer to the world that no one else is offering or can offer in the same way that you do?
  • Planning/ Prayer
    • What’s your plan? What’s your prayer/Contemplation
    • Do you begin, check In, and end most everyday connected to your yearning?Do you have a “sobering” mechanism for the moments when you’re swept away by competing priorities, distractions, and disgust?
      •  Stop
      • Observe
      • Breathe
      • Expand/Extinguish
      • Respond
  • Who is going with you? (Beloved Friends)
    • Definitely listen to this Pat Metheny’s song
    • Be thankful – overtly for your sacred Contracts (shorter/longer term)
      • What transformational qualities do you and your beloved friends share with one another?
      • How do you prevent yourself or them from becoming isolated?
        1. What is the covenant that you have signed?
  • Take time to Identify and Respond to the seen and unseen Driving Forces/Restraining Forces in your life.

Human beings generally decide not to take huge risks. If you truly wish to become really who you are – these are some of the steps that you must devote yourself to pray about, do on a daily basis, contemplate with yourself and in your circles, and adapt as life’s unforeseeable and uncontrollable occurrences happen. Failure is a necessary and blessed option.  Choosing to continue is a must for all of us and for The Divine.

If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this earth. 
(Roberto Clemente)

How you and I contemplate and act upon these truths shapes our journey into a deeper and more authentic realization of ourselves. We will create a kinder and healthier world with these practices – one moment, hour, day at a time.

Blessings along The Way, Jim

 

Telling the Canaanite Woman’s story today

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Learn more about sexism and racism in modern-day Canaan (Lebanon) here.

10 Jesus called the crowd near and said to them, “Listen and understand. 11  It’s not what goes into the mouth that contaminates a person in God’s sight. It’s what comes out of the mouth that contaminates the person.” … 25 But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.”26 He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.”  (Matthew 15: 10-11, 25-26)

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Perhaps we should memorialize our victims rather than our military officers. Read Maggie Penman’s comparison and contrast to memorials and statues in Germany versus the United States.

I have read dozens of articles, tweets, Facebook posts about last week’s protests in Virginia.  Sean Patrick HughesThis is Us blog post is excellent. David Brook’s Op-Ed, How to Roll Back Fanatacism is also outstanding. They both suggest that U.S. citizens, especially those of us who are white, are wrestling with the realities of our nation’s history and socio-economic/racial hierarchies. Brooks writes: “I’m beginning to think the whole depressing spectacle of this moment — the Trump presidency and beyond — is caused by a breakdown of intellectual virtue, a breakdown in America’s ability to face evidence objectively, to pay due respect to reality, to deal with complex and unpleasant truths.” (D. Brooks, Aug. 15, 2017, para. 7)

Many of us possess a culturally scripted and approved nature of life in America. We don’t like it when a black woman, a Latino child, an Asian Man, or a Native American teenager disturb us with facts about who is on top of the cultural pyramid in our country. Many people demand someone with more power, authority, and control to fix these inequalities or just leave us alone, NOW!  Well – one way of taking on some responsibilities for the world we live in is to do something about it, beginning with ourselves.  Both Ignatius of Loyola and St. Augustine are attributed with the ideal of praying as if everything depends upon God while acting as if everything depends upon us.  Regardless, this principle resonates with an even older Greek ideal – God helps those who help themselves.

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Watch Bishop Michael’s Curry’s “Where do we go from here” video

Closer to my spiritual home, The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop urges Episcopalians to act.  Bishop Curry points to Jesus Christ’s loving example of moving through chaos toward becoming God’s Beloved Community. Bishop Curry says: “Through his way of love, he has shown us the way to be right and reconciled with each other as children of God, and as brothers and sisters. ” (M. Curry, Aug. 17, 2017, 2:00) He concludes with providing purposeful resources for Becoming Beloved Community Where You Are.

Walking toward justice is not privately praying for a solution.  Walking toward racial/cultural reconciliation is not sitting in the couch and watching today’s protests and counter protests. Crap, being a member of Christ’s beloved Community is not writing this blogpost. Walking faithfully is interacting with people as Jesus did. Dare I say, Jesus learned something about practicing and repenting from racial discrimination himself.

 

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Bazzi Rahib, Ilyas Basim Khuri – The Canaanite Woman asks for healing for her daughter – learn more about the Canaanite Woman and her interaction with Jesus here.

Many Christians will not suggest that Jesus of Nazareth erred  sinfully in his human life. Consider then his interaction with a Canaanite woman pleading for the well being of her demon-possessed daughter. The cultural backdrop for this setting is in Canaan, the land that the Israelites – Jesus’ ancestors entered and occupied.  1st Century Jews viewed Canaanites as idol-worshiping enemies. (I. Russell Jones, 2013).  Male Jews who would have observed a Canaanite woman publicly seeking assistance from one of their religious leaders as culturally inappropriate. The Canaanite’s woman’s protest is out of bounds because she screams out loud in daylight for her daughter’s healing. Jesus’ first response – silence. His second response, following the woman’s desperate plea for help while kneeling before him is: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15: 25).  Equating a Canaanite woman to a canine is equivalent to calling a contemporary woman a “dyke” or a “welfare queen” in our own day.

Parse that lack of hospitality on Jesus’ however you wish, theologically or otherwise. Dwell on the implications of God’s Son publicly pronouncing that God’s mercy is prejudicial and restricted.  Thank God that the story doesn’t end there.

What is remarkable, more enlightening, and most transformative for Jesus and his immediate and contemporary disciples resides in the Canaanite Woman’s ultimate rhetorical reply.

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“Yes Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Matthew 15: 27)

When does a protest become more than a display of public outrage? How does an overt statement of discrimination become the lever for life-giving compassion? What does an ultimate act of faith from a marginalized person who confronts courageously God and humanity mean. This scriptural encounter between God incarnate and a marginalized woman provides the impetus for us to continue praying even as we take further steps to live as God’s believers and doers of the The Word?

 

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The world responds to Charlottesville and our nation’s President’s inadequate and prejudicial response.

Brene Brown told Krista Tippett and their (Becoming Wise) listeners this objectively and idealistically true fact.  “I can tell you as a researcher — 11,000 pieces of data — I cannot find a single example of courage, moral courage, spiritual courage, leadership courage, relational courage, I cannot find a single example of courage that was not born completely of vulnerability. We buy into some mythology about vulnerability being weakness and being gullibility and being frailty because it gives us permission not to do it.” (Brene’ Brown, March 18, 2016, para. 3)

The Canaanite Woman classically typifies such vulnerability. She’s willing to confront public shame and humiliation because the life of her daughter matters more than anything else. Consider how people of faith and their religious leader initially react to the Canaanite Women. Then, gaze upon Charlottesville and the millions of time before last weekend when marginalized people in our nation cry our for justice.

Open our hearts O Lord.

Contemplate the dozens of times we as people of faith remain silent, or bark back at people unlike us when they question our discriminatory habits and beliefs.

Kyrie Eleison (Lord have Mercy).

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Ten Ways for Communities to Fight Hate

Protests are awesome when they transform people to confront the often unspoken and undesirable truths of our world. Protests often do not in and of themselves manifest transformation because such interactions frequently become violent and exacerbate more hatred.  You and I can and should do something beyond protesting though. As Jesus did, we must offer mercy. Being Jesus’ disciples, we must proclaim the Gospel beyond worship and charitable acts.  The Southern Law Poverty Center suggests that collaborate, creative, compassionate responses are numerous. The Center for Courage and Renewal provides resources for creating Circles of Trust. Episcopalians can connect with one another through dozens of racially re-conciliatory opportunities.

All of this work begins where we are, what we believe, who we interact with, and whether or not we possess the vulnerable, repentant, cognitive and spiritual hope to accomplish life as Jesus Christ did and commands us to do.

Blessings along The Way

 

 

 

 

Faithful

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Dara Lind explains the Charlottesville White Supremacist Rally

…. But I have no faith myself
I refuse it even the smallest entry.

Let this then, my small poem,
like a new moon, slender and barely open,
be the first prayer that opens me to faith. … (Faith – from Where Rivers Meet – David Whyte – available on Gratefulness.org

People wonder why other people are so hateful.  We witness a group of young white men march on streets of a wealthy, college Virginia town. They wield guns. They shout anti Semitic, racist statements.  They are incensed by counter-protesters who arrive in greater numbers. Consequently a reckless, young white domestic terrorist from Kentucky now living in Ohio chooses to drive his car into the crowd. He kills one woman and injures 19 other people.  The person occupying the Office of the Presidency of the United States quickly identifies Radical Muslim Terrorist activities. He neglects to call out radical white terrorism. Shameful and not surprising.

Such racially-drive violence has happened in our nation since slavery’s first days.  President Lyndon B. Johnson is quoted as saying“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” The problem with this past weekend’s events is that many of the white supremacists were not poor. They were led by men who graduated from the University of Virginia. @Yes,You’reRacist  identified participants who are college students and gainfully employed men who flew from across the country to ‘protect Western civilization’ and seek ‘peaceful ethnic cleansing.’ If this had been a Black Lives Matter protest many participants would be convicted of violent crimes and awaiting trial. Almost all of Saturday’s White Supremacists got into their cars or boarded airplanes and went home – pistols, rifles, guns, Nazi flags, and KKK symbols all intact.

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Kudos to the Isaiah 6:8 Group Members and other folks who attended a Peace Rally in Lewisburg, PA yesterday

Yesterday, many faithful clergy and laity denounced the violence and racism that occurred in Charlottesville. The Diocese of Central Pennsylvania’s Bishop issued a public message.  Bishop Audrey Scanlan wrote: “Pray for the dead and injured and their families, pray for those who witnessed the viciousness, pray in thanksgiving for those who came to control the chaos, and pray for the perpetrators.   And then, commit to work in your own sphere of influence for change.

Yes, what can we do within our own spheres of influence. As Amy Walter said yesterday on Meet the Press: ” What I really worry about is that we are going to move from this conversation very quickly because some shiny object is going to get thrown in front of us and we’re going to miss the opportunity to have this conversation. There are very few people who are leading this conversation beyond just the violent piece of this. And I just fear that by Monday, we’re going to be moving on to something else.” 

Human beings, including me, despise admitting to our shame.  We rationalize why bad things happen to good people so as to negate any role that we might play in allowing tragedies to happen. The harsh fact is that everyone who is an American citizen who is white male, straight, gay, bi, or otherwise sexually orientated inherently possesses large amounts of social capital and cultural benefits because we are male and white. This is true for economically poor, middle class, and wealthy white guys. We rarely if ever pay the same costs for committing the same crimes as our black and brown brothers do.

And, feeling guilty about these benefits really doesn’t change much. What changes the culture and changes me is doing something righteous, courageous, and loving because of my faith. My faith is not some simplistic recitation of a creed on Sunday mornings. My  faith isn’t just about claiming Christianity as my tribe.  If I’m to live as a follower of Jesus, I must get out of the boat as Peter did. I sure as heck don’t have St. Paul’s courage and I can’t just nod my head when he writes that there is no distinctions between Jews and Gentiles. The same Lord is Lord of All and generous to all who seek God. (Romans 10: 12-13)

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Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

In seminary, I recall that there is little value in shaming or blaming anyone about what is taking place around us. What  creates conditions for spiritual and social change is advocating on behalf of oppressed and marginalized persons. Those of us who are fortunate to live in this nation who possess educations, jobs, families, good health, and white skin need to step back from time to time and consider how we may best serve the people around us – beyond our usual boundaries.

Take some time this week and listen to Patrisse Cullors and Robert Ross as they explain OnBeing the “Spiritual Work of Black Lives Matter.” Dr. Ross , of the California Endowment, invites all of us to actualize our faith when he says: “This is powerfully spiritual, important work upon which the future of this nation rests, and I think it calls upon us to bring the best of the total experience of our best selves to the table. It’s not — we can’t mail it in on addressing inequality in this nation. Each of us is going to have to bring the best of ourselves to the equation. Not just the best of ourselves, but the best of ourselves in unity and in coalition.” (Robert Ross, May 25, 2017)

As an Anglican Christian, I most realize my faith in actions on life’s common grounds.  That is, I treat the young African American girl at the communion altar in front of me with special respect.  I meekly speak in my elementary Spanish to the Hispanic server at the Mexican restaurant I enjoy. These are but small kindnesses. The more profound baptismal work happens when we observe evil and do not avoid or become paralyzed by it. Rather we exercise compassion as Jesus did. We go out each and every day and allow God to transform sin into good through our lives.  Our meditations, words, and actions radiate the story of God’s reconciling work around us. (Brother Aidan, Order of The Holy Cross, <OHC>, A Prayer for Charlottesville, August 13, 2017)

Christianity is more than a spectator sport. Today’s world requires Christians to profess to more than the job of offering next-world salvation to other people. This world requires plenty of healing now – especially as such redemptive work applies to racial and cultural tribalism. The deeply wounded, racially biased white supremacists around us require prayers for repentance and wisdom. Thank God for the people who stood up to them non-violently in Charlottesville.   Now, on Monday, truly religious work begins on the streets where we live, the community centers where we learn and play, and especially in our churches where we profess to love a God whose merciful and eternal love knows no boundaries. We will convert minds and win hearts through acts of justice, kindness, and abiding love as God presents such opportunities to us nearby.

Blessings along The Way