I have been back in school for a full week. Today is the start of week 2 of the final 9 weeks of the year. That is wild. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were beginning day 1, and I was bent on doing better as a teacher. I think that has happened, but only because last year I was grasping at straws. It is amazing how quickly weeks go. It is as if last week did not even happen. On Friday night, we had our “Basketball Banquet” to look back on the hard work of the team this season. I am still amazed that the season is over! I want to have a do-over.
Life is crazy like that. One day feels like an eternity, but weeks, months, and years can come and go without my slightest attention being given to them. I am wanting to change this in my life. I am wanting to learn to fully live in the present. I constantly stress about what is next. I forsake the great teacher and “Worry completely about tomorrow, and what I will eat, drink, and wear.” I have never known anything else. My mental approach to life is to concern myself with the next thing and to be dissatisfied with the present.
Busyness has been my greatest “Frenemy” (friend and enemy). I have a lot of things I need to get done – good. Allowing myself to take these things on as my identity – not as good. I look at the life of Jesus, and he certainly had a lot of things he was doing and taking care of – teaching, preaching, healing, praying, etc. but these things never seem to become his core identity. He remains rooted and grounded by a peaceful presence. He carries with him a deeper truth than my small version of busyness.
He routinely calls his disciples to do the same as he has done. He is calling them to wake up to this bigger, better reality for the first time in their lives. They do not seem to grasp it until well after his death, burial, and resurrection. Even then, they are struggling to comprehend what is happening and what they are to do. This gives me hope. This calms my anxiety. This speaks the same peaceful presence with which Jesus lived into existence in my own heart and mind. This is because my unknowing does not make me a failing disciple. Rather, it makes me just that, a disciple.
As Rainer Rilke said, “Be patient toward all that in unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is this, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
I think this word from Rilke is a truth our world refuses to hear. We require answers now, and if we cannot acquire them now, then the pursuit is ignorant and wasteful. I see this in our communal acceptance of “get rich quick” pyramids that are (definitely not) schemes. No offense to R&F or any other social media sales platform, but they are the standard-bearer in this realm of buying into something that claims to fix our lives. “In just two weeks _____ fixed her acne and made a passive $1,000/month.”
This sounds great, and if I am honest, I have sometimes thought “I wonder if there is any way to sell R&F to men because I need more money.” Yet, I also know that the promises of the Social Media Platform will always leave me wanting. Just like this blog cannot cure you, or me. So it is with life, the ability to earn more, make more, or have more does not cure us. It does nothing more than to fill a momentary desire to feel something. We seem to work tirelessly only to feel alive. We have taken Descartes quote, “I think therefore I am” and transformed it to say, “I work therefore I am.”
I think we feel too little because we have been taught that feelings are illogical or weakness breaking through our otherwise strong exterior. We have this inherent desire to feel – especially to feel love. Yet we refuse to allow this to show. Our communities generally view those who do emote to be pitied more than any other. We have replaced love with greed. We replace our feelings with our pragmatic anxiety ridden choices to pursue some vanity which leads to a bigger number in the bank.
I think this part of Jesus’ teaching is most offensive today. Sure we are offended when he says the peacemakers are blessed because we tend to honor war-mongering. We are offended when he looks on the woman caught in an affair and sends her away with no tangible “punishment.” But we can rationalize all of these, and use our highly evolved sense of logic to do away with such acts of mercy.
It is his teaching on money that makes us cringe. It stops us cold. He challenges everything we have known and calls it a lie. He looks at the rich ruler and sends him away sad. He looks at us and sometimes sends us away sad. Interestingly enough, Luke tells us that he looks at the Rich man, loves him, and then tells him to sell all of his stuff. It is not his desire to strip us of our identity, but rather to strip from us our self-aggrandizing false identities which breed arrogance and self-interest and replace it with a genuine love of neighbor. To which we respond like the man in Luke 10:29-37, “Who is my neighbor?”
I write this today because I think I need to hear it. I return to my work and remind myself that I am called to see beyond the facade of the world as it is and see the world Jesus is bringing into existence. This world he continually calls, “The Kingdom of Heaven.”
Today I choose to ask myself, “Who is my neighbor?” Maybe it is better that the answer scares me a little.
I hope you have a blessed day,
Grace and Peace,