See, I am setting before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity... choose life.
This morning i woke up early, agitated, and self-castigating for staying up so late talking - for 'dissipating' my energy with talk and for winding up my body before bed. It was a costly decision, not necessarily chosen with deliberate intention. However, what strikes me is the moral judgment placed on it as i woke to what i know will be a trying day phsyically.
i notice that yesterday's Ash Wednesday sermon set Lent on a trajectory of considering 'practicing joy' and asked us to consider what we normally practice. This morning the answer would have to be - judgment, fatalism, regret.
Choose life. I set before you life and death. Choose life
The conversation last night was, itself, important, meandering through various topics of identity and pain with heat, revealing the work of healing still before me to do regarding these topics.
In the conversation, i was overwhelmed with compassion for my family of origin and especially my Mom as i told the story of their immigration, how she erased her accent, the hard load of lost all at once for her right now (empty nest, unexpected retirement, the truth of aging + mortality), the possibility of no biological grandchildren... i especially saw how race has claimed not just its over costs but also the tarifs of striving for ideals of the colonizing culture (wealth, beauty, youth, title, consumerism, capitalism, 'my' sare of the pie to which i am 'entitled'.) i saw the heaps of unconscious weight the deck we drew as in this culture has loaded on us at each turn: fostering fear, insufficient, self comparison.
I set before you life and death... choose life
i reflect on where the conversation started: race demographics in this country. i note that the deep wound of race is slowly becoming more conscious in me - especially in its amorphous nature. And the continguency of identity PofC, the poor, the ill, the elderly must endure: only being relevant or worthy when others say so and once they do say so, not being allowed a private self until those same others have satisfied their current interests...
At the same time, though, i reflect on how the current discourse invites me to define myself by those identities and the fight for their recognition and entitlements. i.e.: it seeks to keep me on this (fragmented) plane of stiving. Until Black is accepted and poor is helped and weakness supported and honored, i cannot possibly be at peace. This subtle insinuation invites me to remain fragmented and striving. i do not rest in the unity and sufficiency that is within me because i am always rising up to defend and promote (different facets of) it to 'you. These are the hidden burdens and landmines to real freedom that i recognize i've inherited from the culture directly and through its long onslaught on my family. Where is joy, peace, or unity in this striving?
I set before you life and death. Choose life.
i see how all this legacy boils down to a rift of strife in one human mother-daughter relationship. As we each labor under our own load of this stuff, our Black on Black, woman on woman, wounded on wounded 'violence' relieves the dominant culture from some of the work of imposing that violence on us. All the while we might just call it interpersonal conflict or about the choices and abuse in the house (though this too came from the burden borne through one poor, Black man's pain...)
I set before you life and death. Choose life.
Finally, for now, i think about the media. It sets our sights on what is wrong out there and who to blame. It divides at every turn when the nature of the Divine is to integrate to wholeness. God is One. Life is One - refracted like light through the lenses of myriad prisms - still it is One. We learn from the media to be disgusted. Maybe we should be aghast at some things. But we are trained to focus all our attention there. It reminds me of St. Paul's opposing advise in Philipians 4: "Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence [to be found in that person, yourself, the circumstance under which you labor), if there is anything worthy of praise, this on these things."
Well, is that what i've turned my mind to today? Is that what i meditate on? Is that what the voices i choose to listen to invite me to focus on? Did i start this day really stretching to find whatever or anything that may be good, lovely, pure, true in myself, my beloveds, my foes, my president, my present culture, the reality of my circumstances... Am i willing to discipline my mind toward this task this morning? Will i tomorrow? Will i right now?
See, I am setting before you today life and death... Choose Life