“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
― Dorothy Day
I’m not sure how I feel about this 2018 new year. While I’m not a huge celebrator of the holiday, I do hold the typical excitement for repurposing and reorganizing, for embarking upon new goals, for seeking ways to spend my time and/or money with greater intentionality. I don’t prefer to stray too far from my physical routine of sleep/awake cycles so partying long into the night is not something I ever choose to do with abandon. I do wish I had this skill, but alas, I do not. I am, at 45 years of age, coming to terms with the fact that I am just not that exciting.
When times are normal, one’s natural response in this season is to reflect upon the past year’s accomplishments and mishaps while anticipating new accomplishments and mitigating new mishaps in the upcoming year.
But this 2018 feels different doesn’t it? There is some collateral damage that has yet to be resolved. We are still dwelling in weird and scary times. Our nation is not in a better place when one looks to Washington. And for me, my greatest collateral damage, I lost my ability to dream. My year wasn’t horrible and I never lost sight of how fortunate I am, but I lost my levity, my dreaming. Our collective
ignorance innocence was stolen wasn’t it? For those of us that claim Christianity it’s been a whopper – none of us could have predicted the bafflement and betrayal we would experience from the church bodies that raised and reared us as their own. The costs are staggering.
This deep toll on my spirit sent me inward toward 2017’s end. I pulled away from social media, deactivating my Twitter account. I am not designed to know this much information, to have this much commentary, to feel this much angst for all the suffering across the globe. No longer could I sacrifice my sanity or my presence on the altar of “remaining informed”. Instead I had to rely upon trusted friends and family to keep me abreast.
And sure enough, come New Year’s Eve, I rediscovered my ability to dream. This 1965 brick ranch has been used hard after four-and-a-half years of ownership and my favorite room still needed a fresh personal touch. And so I rolled and splattered color on the walls while Eric relocated the television and its myriad of cords and accessories. We rearranged furniture and pictures while chattering and laughing, relearning the rhythms of mundanity and physical labor. My spirit came back, I returned to me – doing what I do – making my home safe and inviting for all of us, myself included.
And this is the hope I hold for 2018. A reinvigoration, a return to doing what we do. Instead of preoccupying ourselves with the craziness that will not end, what if we take our news in doses and focus upon caring for our bodies and souls again? What if we take care of our families, neighbors, communities? What if the nuttiness of Washington is not priority but relegated to background noise? What if we detach ourselves from our laptops and phones when we get those telltale physical signs – the heaviness between the eyes alongside the restlessness and simultaneous ache for hope?
Some could claim this is a privileged position, one which I recognize and agree. Yet, our sanity and effectiveness might depend upon our ability to unplug.
I am all about being informed. I want to be a global citizen, but my mobilization occurs here, in my body, my home, my immediate community. I want to make the business of being a good neighbor, a loving partner, an attentive parent, a concerned friend, a committed citizen, a purposeful pastor my priority. My heart must continue to break for the injustices and suffering around the world, yet how can I be effective there when things here are not as they should be?
I’m convinced it’s all about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Our energy and compassion here translates to energy and compassion there. Loaves and fishes. It’s all about the offering, the trusting. When we move forward in the confidence of our responsibility, here, now, we change the world.
I bring my loaves and fishes to the table, to the place where multiplication happens, where miracles occur and I offer my limited resources, my paltry understanding, my hunger, fatigue, and grief, my shaky joy. I bring my body and soul, believing and accepting to the core of who I am that I am beloved by the God that made me in Her image. I am cherished, held, invited to rest upon Her breast and receive. The holy ground of my fear – not a terrified fear, but a reverent fear – this holy ground is the soil of my community, the soil of my home, the ground upon which I see this world of mine. I remove my shoes for this holy ground might swallow me up if I am not humble.
As a pastor, as we bring a new expression of God’s love to our community, I tread with humility and reverence for this task. Christianity in this nation has done lasting and horrific damage – not just in recent months but over centuries. We as Christians have grave responsibilities that must never be taken lightly. The work of dismantling white supremacy, the world of restoring dignity to women, the world of affirming and honoring the lives of our LGBTQ+ communities, the work of defending our vulnerable immigrants and their families, the work of loving our least of these – all of this is our call. Here. And the task is massive. Yet, we carry our humble lunch to the feet of Jesus. Imploring, uncertain, resolute resistance.
And we plod forth confident in Love. Love for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our towns. For we are standing on holy ground, doing what we do, here, now.