I listened to discussion on the radio last night about one of the current hot topics, gun control. One woman, who had been shot as a teenager, said it didn’t change her outlook on the subject – she still supported owning guns. She said something like, without guns being available, the shooter would still have gotten one.
An earlier report, several days before, shed the most light on this subject. The study’s author found that the majority of gun-related deaths, almost two thirds, were from self-inflicted wounds. Suicide. So while we dance around the elephant in the room, addressing the more horrific incidents of violence, the current dialogue does nothing for the greatest number. Seems to me kind of an opposite use of the Pareto Principle, the 80-20 rule.
But as is usually the case with these topics, my thoughts turn to Jesus and how he modeled life. What would he have done? I think it’s cliche to say he would abhor them, even if I cite the passage about those who use the sword. Instead, I look at how he cherished life. All life; but especially the downtrodden, the ignored, the shamed. It comes down to values. Do you value life? Do you value life so highly that in addition to taking care of yourself, to protecting animals, to protecting the unborn, to caring for the sick, you wouldn’t think to kill another human being?
Is life that precious to you? Or is it only your own?
This week the hope is that sometimes your change is second nature, accomplished without thinking about it. Today is the Feast of St. Joseph. He’s touted as a great worker, but I haven’t read much about him. I wonder what a piece of his carpentry work would fetch today? My guess is an unbelievable amount. In this Lenten practice, this is our last week of focusing on what we are changing, as next week is Holy Week, and we spend that time in reflection without action. I think once something becomes second nature, automatic, we achieve that same level.
We are in the middle of a week of change! In our own lives, if we are following the Irrational Joy Lenten practice, we are replacing unwanted behavior with something new. And around the world many wait anxiously for a new leader for their church. I see opposite ends of the spectrum at work. On the one hand, people are waiting for someone to guide them, feeling uncertain about what direction they should follow, hoping that their new leader will embrace their own values.
On the other hand, people are choosing to follow God as they believe they are led, living in the moment, reflecting on what God stirs within their hearts, changing to better reflect that spirit to the world around them. How easy it is to accept those who believe as we do; how difficult to embrace those who think differently.
I had a dream last night that I was pleading with a group of politicians to look out for what was best for the country, not just their party. Although a lot of them seem to be older than me, they act like they are from the ‘Me’ generation. (I think I was before that…I think.)
Then I read this morning’s poem, Divided, and was amazed that it was about that very same thing. (And no, I had not read it the night before or the day before, if you’re wondering.)
I also realized, after reading the thought for the day, that there is a difference between examination and reflection. I considered this because I’ve been struggling with saying out of one side, ‘don’t judge where you are’ and then asking you to reflect on what is happening. How is that not judging? Well, to me, the difference is this: Examination is a head activity, where you are evaluating and inspecting what you’ve done and coming to a conclusion, a judgment. Reflection, however, comes from the heart. It is not judgmental; it is more a sensing of where you are, what you’ve experienced. Rather than analytical it’s experiential.
We’re taking action this week, maybe not all the time, but some of the time. We’re in the process of changing, which may include episodes of old behavior mixed with the new. As we become more immersed in the present moment, we become more aware, and reflect as we live, rather than in hindsight. It truly opens one’s eyes to life.
Mid-week in our first week of taking action, where we’re taking it slowly, sometimes still observing our old behavior while we evaluate what we should be doing instead; and sometimes taking action. It’s funny how when you think about it you can easily choose the right response, but when the heart becomes engaged, another part of you takes over. Don’t fret. It takes longer for the heart to follow and get with the program.
I had a dream last night, and in it an old friend was asking about whether a task could be automated, and said they understood if I wouldn’t or couldn’t do it, since I didn’t attend their church anymore. I said I could do it–it had nothing to do with attending their church; and I mentioned that the church was like any other club, it had monthly dues, too. She said, ‘Yeah, but these dues are much higher!’
I think however you express your faith, that is up to you, and as you move this Lent toward a new behavior, you’ll see others respond to you differently. I hope each day is a new day for you, full of promise and fulfillment.