Last Sunday I talked about the tendency, among some of us at least, to want to hurry to forgiveness, as if we can skip the intermediate steps. Doing the work of forgiveness requires acknowledging you have hurt someone, and trying to make amends, and finally asking, “Can you forgive me?” This isn’t easy. It can feel vulnerable, and risky. And it’s worth it.
Three weeks ago, I preached a sermon about the culture of white supremacy that haunts our nation; and how important it is that we not be silent about things that matter. After church a couple of men asked, “What about Harvey Weinstein?” They were struck by the courage of the women who have come forward to tell the truth that they had been sexually harassed or abused by Weinstein, or by other men. And I was heartened that men here are thinking about this.
Years ago I had the experience of working individually with one of my art students when he became terminally ill. I volunteered with anxiety, worrying that I lacked the temperament and skill to deal with anything so hard. Yet day-by-day, my student’s courage taught me many things. So did the compassion of others in the community.
“Just as long as I have breath, I must answer, ‘Yes,’ to life” (hymn #6 in Singing the Living Tradition). This is what we aiming for, right? To live our lives fully and well while we’re here. Easier said than done, of course. But as Thoreau said, “To live deliberately… to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life… and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
One of the blessings of community, whether a family or a church, a neighborhood, a city, or a nation, is that you end up being thrown together with people you might not otherwise come into contact with. You find yourself with people who are different, whom you didn’t get to choose, and this can stretch your ideas of what is good and acceptable and true.
Last Monday, on my day off, I sat out on our porch as the day came to an end. By seven o’clock it was pretty much dark. Above the silhouette of trees, a bright sliver of moon hung in a sky of deepening blue. It was a beautiful evening after a warm day. Crickets chirped as the night came on, and the hymn we just sang came to mind: “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.”
if you are like me, you spend a lot of your life paying attention to what’s right in front of you—taking care of your responsibilities, juggling your various commitments, trying to find a little time for yourself now and then. Maybe it’s only occasionally that you step back and look at the big picture and wonder, “Where am I going? Am I living my life the way I want to? The way I ought to?”
Does the idea of faith warm your heart, or leave you cold? Faith is one of those things that gets spoken of a lot, but how often do we explore what it really means?
You can, step by step, build a good life – a life of faith. But it doesn’t just happen by wishful thinking. It takes attention, and time, and effort.