Monday, January 22, 2018

Ignoring the summons

Poised at the peephole. ashleybuxo/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Why do I trust God the least?

God the almighty. God the powerful. God the merciful. God the number-of-other-adjectives-that-mirror-the-Wizard-of-Oz. All the qualities God has, all the spirit God breathes in me, and yet I do not give my trust. The one entity in the universe who can help me first is the one I reach out to last.

I can answer my own question, of course. As a friend recently said in our small faith group (to clarify: the group is small, though perhaps so is my faith), "I'm frightened of what I might be called to."

Jesus has come to the seashore, he has asked me to cast aside my nets, and I am flat-out ignoring him. Because I know what I'm called to right now. God/Son/Spirit are urging me to march. To call my representatives. To register people to vote. To connect with new ministries at church. Essentially, to push beyond my comfortable limits and draw closer to the "other" in order to banish the idea of "otherness" altogether.

Dianna Ortiz, the American Ursuline nun who survived brutal torture at the hands of our own government in 1989 and went on to found TASSC, laments the "parade of apathy, deaf to God's insistent call." In her view, apathy is "the shroud of unprincipled darkness which is a failure to live out the Gospel." No word-mincing here. To nurture apathy -- the freedom from, or insensibility to, suffering -- is not merely to rebuff God's call; it is to deny it.

While I do feel sensitive and sensible to suffering, I also enjoy a certain freedom from it thanks to the blind, dumb luck of the safe, healthy, warm, dry, well-off, educated hand I was dealt. As I see it, my Gospel-mandated responsibility is to relinquish that freedom and build a home in suffering. Again, though, in the words of my wise friend: "I know what I need to do. It's the doing that's hard."

To look at it from the (much) less hesitant, (much) more proactive view of Irish priest and radical activist Fr. Philip Berrigan, "hope is where your ass is." So where is my ass these days? Where have I put my literal skin in the cosmic game? When I can answer that question not perfectly, but at all, I will know I have taken a stronger step toward God's call.

Right now, I am a house-bound old lady nervous of any knock at her door. But the louder the knocking grows, and the longer it continues with no need for rest, the more I must acknowledge it demands my attention. As of today, I have made it to the peephole. My hand is poised over the deadbolt. When I will trust God enough to unlock it?


Prayer #320: To Live as an Open Wound

To live the Gospel is to live as an open wound -- raw, gushing, muscle torn and bone exposed. No tourniquet can staunch it. No bandage can bind it. For faith is weapon and treatment both, a battle cry and lullaby, a charge and a destiny. The wound is Love; its cure, the same.

Amen.

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