I Assume the Worst

It is so easy for me to assume the worst. And it is frightening.

An unexpected event happened the other day. I was at work and my wife and 3 daughters were at the house. It was a rather normal day; somewhat cold yet warm enough for a winter’s rainstorm. At this point in the day it hadn’t begun raining too much, however.

2:30 in the afternoon at our house is a time of waking up or still being awake after neglecting to nap. Activities of playing, coloring, or reading are in full swing as laughter and the occasional bickering fill the house. This day, however, would be different.

My wife called me to alert me to a man – probably in his early 20’s or so – walking around our house. We live on a corner making access to viewing our house quite easy. He walked around to the front of the house and then back to the side with enough pause to gain a keen eye to the details of our house. As my wife insistingly beckoned my girls away from our back door, he began to walk up alongside our van and towards the door. My wife had been watching him from within the house, far enough from the windows that he couldn’t see her or the girls.

Yet as he walked up towards the house, he stopped and left. I told my wife to get off the phone with me and to call 911. Was he trying to break in? Was he going to steal our belongings? Could my family have been in grave danger and I would hear the whole thing over the phone and 30 minutes away? Was he leaving our house for another one down the street?

My wife kept me on the phone as she walked back towards the rear door. As she got closer, she noticed a package and a note left from the delivery man. This man walking around the house wasn’t the delivery man; he seemed to be eyeing the package and inspecting for life in the house. “No one home,” he must have thought, making the package his. What made him stop short? I’ll never know.

A few cops showed up and scoped out our neighborhood. My brother came over to check out everything. All in all, nothing much had actually occurred and my wife handled things much, much better than I. She wasn’t worked up or over-anxious about the acts of that day.

I couldn’t shake the images running through my head. Not only of my wife and children in a precarious situation at best and life threatening at worst, but what I would have/could have done had I been home. Part of my worry was if this man would return and the fact I wouldn’t be home that night till 11pm. I was – in some ways – stuck being 30-45 minutes away from home and there might be danger lurking and waiting for opportunity to strike.

I arrived at home that night just before 11. And it was now that things changed. My wife was already in bed awaiting my return. The kids were in bed sleeping soundly. Seeing them safe made real what had been foggily imagined in my head. My wife and I caught up on the day as we reviewed what had taken place. “He walked around the house…the package…the girls…” Her calm lucidity eased my troubled mind and heart.

Then she changed the whole situation. “What if he was trying to help? What if he saw the package on the back porch getting wet and wondered if he could put it on the front porch?” See our back patio/porch doesn’t have anything keeping the rain at bay. The front does. What if he wasn’t trying to steal the package but keep it safe for us? From the inside of the house the package wasn’t visible; you could only see it from the outside. What if as he walked closer, he heard the girls or saw my wife and realized it would get picked up?

What if instead of a threat he was a help? What if he was offering us hospitality instead of hostility?

It was at this point where Henri Nouwen began to echo in me.

In our world the assumption is that strangers are a potential danger and that it is up to them to disprove it…Our heart might desire to help others: to feed the hungry, visit the prisoners and offer a shelter to travelers; but meanwhile we have surrounded ourselves with a wall of fear and hostile feelings, instinctively avoiding people and places where we might be reminded of our good intentions. (Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, p.69)

I had decidedly reacted in a manner where this man was the threat. The situation dictated this…right? The funny thing is that this Nouwen quote and the book it is taken from is something I’ve been teaching on for awhile now. In fact, this exact passage was something I honed in on specifically. I even wrote about it here.

These simple questions and wondering from my wife expose the reality of the situation: it is easier to teach than to live. Certainly, I have turned my hostility into hospitality towards others in different areas of my life, but as is the case with everything in life, I need to constantly repent and believe as I come to grips with my own blind spots. Learning to love isn’t a one time experience; it takes a life time.

Why did I automatically respond the way I did? What are my underlying assumptions? Why do they bend towards the worst and not something else? What do I actually value and believe? How do I honor the safety of my family without resorting to the violence I so easily assumed? What areas of my own life am I living out of fear and loneliness?

Questions like these force themselves to the forefront in moments like this. They teach me more about myself than I am sometimes willing to confront.

The more I ponder this whole situation the more I come to this conclusion: While he had the potential to steal our property, I had done worse: I had stolen his humanity. Even if it was only in my own head, this is what I had done. And this is what fear does. It keeps people at arm’s length and assumes the worst. It made me see him as a threat and not as a human being. In short, it keeps love caged up as my own possession for those whom I deem human, not those who actually are. In the end, it allows me to dehumanize myself.

It is so easy for me to assume the worst. And it is frightening.

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Love Your Neighbor: It Isn’t Hate; It’s Fear.

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There has been a push happening for awhile now. For many, the perpetuation of isolated people, anonymously living their lives next door to one another needs to end. This push back into the neighborhood has come due to the cultural insistence on privacy, individualism, and overall autonomy (among others). Where estrangement has flourished, many are seeking to replace it with intimacy and interconnectedness.

Over the past several years, I have wondered if our tendencies toward isolation and individualism stem from fear not hatred. I say fear because for the most part, I don’t find too many who actually hate their neighbor. If they do, it seems this hatred is an outcome of fear. In other words, they hate because they fear, not the other way around.

Fear of our norm being interrupted. Fear of having to be vulnerable. Fear of the unknown. Fear of finding an unknown ally. The list goes on.

Fear is an interesting thing. Many of our fears are steeped in cultural stories; things we have deemed the normative “big” things to be fearful of. Thieves, rapists, car accidents, muggings, and the like plague and dominate our imaginations. Perhaps we have become a culture marked by fear because we are primarily marketed at in fear. Oddly enough, studies have shown that crime rates have actually declined, yet the reporting of crime has steeply ascended. This paradox has given credence to our efforts in self-protection while allowing us to remain hostile towards others.

As Nouwen says, “In our world the assumption is that strangers are a potential danger and that it is up to them to disprove it.” It seems we have allowed our fears of the “big” things to permeate our views of the neighbor, coworker, and stranger featured in our everyday occurrences. This isn’t necessarily a cognizant reaction, yet when our imaginations are shaped by stories of threat and danger carried out by strangers, it is easy to carry these attitudes and practices over into our neighborhoods, workplaces, and third places.

In response, then, we build walls – be they literal or figurative – keeping hostile others out and ourselves in.

Yet, many of us might not believe we live in fear of others. There is no visceral emotion or attitude showing itself as fear. At first glance this may seem true, but taking a look at the actual practices we employ, it doesn’t take long to realize how embedded fear actually is.

There are three aspects of fear I want to point out in particular. Three points that often go unnoticed, but are vital. Vital because if Jesus tells us and shows us how to love our neighbors – and even our enemies – we need to be reflective and aware of how we might be replacing love with fear. Real life is a life of love, not fear; after all, perfect love casts out fear.

1. Fear does not only separate us from others, it allows us to dissect others.

Fear gives us a myopic vision of others where we cut up people into atomized versions of themselves. Rather than seeing others holistically, we pinpoint the qualities we deem necessary to fear them. We don’t see others with both their gifts and problems; we tend to selectively view them for their delinquencies and ills.

Our coworker isn’t a gifted teacher; in fear, she is primarily a gossip. The neighbor across the street isn’t a gracious gardener; in fear, he is the loudmouth who lets everyone know he was out late every Friday night. A spouse isn’t a partner and lover; in fear, he is a prideful manipulator waiting for you to mess up.

In short, fear gets us off the hook of lovingly seeing and participating with whole people. Permission is given to divide them up into the good, bad and ugly while living as if the bad and ugly exist alone. We do this because if others are essentially their most deviant selves – their problems/deficiencies – we don’t have to love them. They are a danger and must be kept at an arm’s length, at best.

In fact, I wonder if we don’t dissect others out of fear of finding ourselves in them. If we can keep the dividing lines alive and well through atomization, there will always be the “us” and “them”, not the “we”. Fear enables us to reject any possibility of finding a like-minded brother or sister. After all, who wants to find a brother and sister in a supposed stranger?

I have seen this over and over again – especially within myself – with those I’m most familiar with. It does happen with the actual stranger, but more often than not, it happens within the relationships that effect my everyday. Focus must be brought to the daily, mundane, humdrum of life for that is where we actually exist.

2. Fear does not only allow us to dissect others, it allows us to blindly deny our own complicity in ugliness and evil.

Fear permits us to lay the blame at the feet of others as we walk away innocent. It allows us to play the victim card in a world full of agitators and thugs. The problems of the neighborhood, workplace, and family are not our own, they are the product of and responsibility of others.

As long as the ailments of our world can be found in others, we will not be accountable for fixing them. Those who need correction are those who are not us. Expectations can be projected across the street or over the cubicle wall as long as they don’t reverberate back on us. Peter Block talks of projection and accountability in his brilliant book Community: The Structure of Belonging

Projection denies the fact that my view of the ‘other’ is my creation, and this is especially true with how we view our communities and the people in them. Most simply, how I view the other is an extension of being accountable. To be accountable is to act as an owner and creator of what exists in the world, including the light and dark corners of my own existence. It is the willingness to focus on what we can do in the face of whatever the world presents to us. Accountability does not project or deny; accountability is the willingness to see the whole picture that resides within, even what is not so pretty. (p 57)

3. Fear does not only keep us from being accountable, it allows for the continuation of the status quo.

If you are like me, you have plenty of grandiose ideas. The problem becomes when they interrupt the established rhythms I’ve created over the years. Behind these walls I’ve built between myself and others lies my comfortable, personal world which has taken years to establish.

This world is full of preoccupations keeping me distant from my neighbors. Nouwen states,

Preoccupations are our fearful ways of keeping things the same, and it often seems that we prefer a bad certainty to a good uncertainty. (Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, p. 74)

For many of us, myself included, it is this fear of the unknown, the uncertain, which keeps us holed up in isolation. Our neighbors might interrupt our entertainment plans in front of our big screens; our hurting coworker might stop my efficiency and money producing; my child might steal my sleep.

Rather than reaching out in love, we hide away in fear of our precious timelines, agendas, and show times. The way to change is pushing through these self-imposed comforts and to allow revolutionary breakthroughs to emerge.

So, I ask, how has fear taken root in your life? Are you dissecting others? Have you turned a blind eye to your own ugliness? Do you protect your status quo at all costs?

Or am I way off base? Is it hatred – or something else – not fear?

I’d love to hear your story.

Image: Johnnie Swearingen (Brenham, TX). Neighbors, 1989. (Source)

Beauty From the Margins: Drawings by “Stan”: A Series Called “Weather”

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Works of art participate in our lives; we are not just distant observers of their lives. They are in conversation among themselves and with us. This is a part of the description of human life; we do the way we do partly because of things that have been said to us by works of art, and because of things that we have said in reply. – Wendell Berry in the essay “Style and Grace”

This is the second installment of drawings from my friend Stan. In case you missed the first part, here is the drawing that started it all with a description of what this series is all about. At its core, people with intellectual disabilities have been relegated to the margins of our society. With this, their gifts have been sidelined or destroyed all together by the various medications and institutions seeking to fix and make more functional. I hope to open some eyes, hearts, and hands through the loving gifts of Stan.

This is a series he did recently called, “Weather.” Or as he would say, “It’s the wedder.” There is a connection between them all and, as Berry says above, they “are in conversation among themselves and with us.”

What does this series say to you?

How might you respond to them?

Journeying With Henri Nouwen: Solitude Part 2

Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people. – Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline

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Back in March I began blogging about loneliness. Then in April I followed it up with a post – the first part – about solitude. This is the second part of that post centering on solitude. The thoughts aren’t my own, but are the result of my reading and teaching of Henri Nouwen’s Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. I mention teaching because I am teaching/dialoguing through this book with a group of my friends-turned-family. As a small community, we’ve been yearning to attend to the relationship between God and ourselves through prayer, listening, and acting. Nouwen has been a most welcome voice in our communal journey. I say all this to bring out the reality of this being practiced; it is not an exercise taking place in a book, on a blog, or in some other excarnational manner. Rather, it is being worked out in messy, real life ways. I encourage you to do the same.

Interruptions and Opportunities

The movement from loneliness to solitude is not a movement of a growing withdrawal but is instead a movement toward a deeper engagement in the burning issues of our time. The movement from loneliness to solitude can make it possible to convert slowly our fearful reactions into a loving response. (p. 49)

I have three beautiful daughters, ages 4, 2, and 7 months. Cliche warning: their lives have been life changing for me. (Funny how the cliches are mere sayings until you’re living them.) Each one of them has added immensely to my life.

They have added love.

They have added joy.

They have added frustration.

They have added stress.

Yet their greatest addition to my life – beyond themselves – has been their gift of allowing me to recognize the need for solitude, in general, and, more particularly, the need to lovingly respond to life.

For Nouwen, this is the heart of solitude: living life as a continuous chain of loving responses instead of anxious reactions.

The movement from loneliness to solitude should lead to a gradual conversion from an anxious reaction to a loving response. Loneliness leads to quick, often spastic reactions which make us prisoners of our constantly changing world. But in solitude of heart we can listen to the events of the hour, the day and the year and slowly ‘formulate,’ give form to, a response that is really our own. In solitude we can pay careful attention to the world and search for an honest response. (p. 50)

We all live busy lives; it has become the ubiquitous nature of our lives. One of the dangers of this – and there are many – is that we move from “anxious response” to “anxious response” based on the ever-changing, busy world we have created.

A tendency within this frenetic pace of life is to dismiss interruptions as incidents getting in the way of “real life.” We have become gluttons for efficiency, productivity, and ease; interruptions break this up and make us, in this consumer-driven, mechanistic world, less human. Protest and anger boils within as we incessantly attempt to refocus on the task at hand, often to the relegation or rejection of this perceived interruption.

I know I do this. I know I do this with my children.

But what if our interruptions are in fact our opportunities, if they are challenges to an inner response by which growth takes place and through which we come to the fullness of being? What if the events of our history are molding us as a sculptor molds his clay, and if it is only in a careful obedience to these molding hands that we can discover our real vocation and become mature people? What if all the unexpected interruptions are in fact the invitations to give up old-fashioned and outmoded styles of living and are opening up new unexplored areas of experience? And finally: What if our history does not prove to be a blind impersonal sequence of events over which we have no control, but rather reveals to us a guiding hand pointing to a personal encounter in which all our hopes and aspirations will reach their fulfillment? (p. 53)

Wouldn’t things be different if we took this approach? If we would develop the solitude of heart Nouwen speaks of, we might begin to cultivate ears urgent to listen and mouths patient to respond. Instead of despair in these interruptions, we may find hope; hope of constant opportunities to convert our loneliness into solitude, our hostility into hospitality.

This is why I am thankful for my children: they have taught me to respond in love, not in anxiety.

The Weight of the World, Solidarity, & Compassion

Another aspect keeping us locked in the closet of loneliness is the felt weight of the world. The daily news has become a terrain of the abysmal and terrifying. We are bombarded with a litany of the world’s woes on a daily basis; no, in our world, it is a minute-by-minute basis. The news changes as quickly as we can hit refresh.

In the midst of this world of instant knowledge of worldwide pain, it is easy to pull away in retreat. We find ourselves feeling helpless or, perhaps more common, we see ourselves as Masters of our own Universe denying ourselves to be fully present to much pain. “This will not effect us” is a common mantra muttered today as we anonymously pass by each other.

What keeps us from opening ourselves to the reality of the world? Could it be that we cannot accept our powerlessness and are only willing to see those wounds that we can heal? Could it be that we do not want to give up our illusion that we are masters over our world and, therefore, create our own Disneyland where we can make ourselves believe that all events of life are safely under control?

But life can teach us that although the events of the day are out of our hands, they should never be out of our hearts, that instead of becoming bitter our lives can yield to the wisdom that only from the heard a creative response can come forth. (p. 57)

In response to heartache, either around the world or across the cubicle, we “anxiously respond” and depend upon our minds and hands, but not our hearts.

When only our minds and hands work together we quickly become dependent on the results of our actions and tend to give up when they do not materialize. In the solitude of heart we can truly listen to the pains of the world because we can recognize them not as strange and unfamiliar pains, but as pains that are indeed our own. (p. 58)

The older I have gotten and the more I have actually listened to the words and actions of others, the more I have become aware of the anguish common to us all. The Christian world I grew up in viewed the spiritual life as a detachment from the world. There was the invisible bubble around us, impenetrable by the world. Being human was being free from the world, its pain and torment included. “Good Christians” didn’t face adversity; we were a happy people. Yet, I have found as I have emerged from this bubble, that the divisiveness, lack of connection, and struggle isn’t merely found in the “world.” No, it is part and parcel of life, for both those who identify as Jesus-followers and those who don’t.

And it is precisely in this mutual experience of pain that solidarity comes forth. It is here that compassion is birthed as we come face to face with what it (partly) means to be human. Loneliness evaporates as we tether our lives together in efforts to move past adversity and into community. “It is this inner solidarity which prevents self-righteousness and makes compassion possible.” It is difficult to respond spitefully or flippantly towards others when we realize the suffering we share in together.

Compassion born in solitude makes us very much aware of our own historicity. We are not called to respond to generalities but to the concrete facts with which we are confronted day after day. A compassionate man can no longer look at these manifestations of evil and death as disturbing interruptions of his life plan but rather has to confront them as an opportunity for the conversion of himself and his fellow human beings. (p. 60)

Instead of solely offering solutions, we need to offer ourselves. Solitude of heart opens our eyes to see what our hearts have been keeping us from. Rather than keep pain – and the people experiencing and perpetuating said pain – at an arm’s length, we are called to see it as part of our life and within the category of what it means to be human. Our efforts “to alleviate pain without sharing it is like wanting to save a child from a burning house without the risk of being hurt.”

This conversion from “anxious reaction” to “loving response” is a challenge for me. I often fool myself into thinking life is much easier practicing anxiety. Yet, again and again, I find Nouwen’s words to ring true: a life of anxious responses only leads to loneliness. I’ll leave you with his final summation of this solitude of heart:

The movement from loneliness to solitude, therefore, is not a movement of a growing withdrawal from, but rather a movement toward, a deeper engagement in the burning issues of our time. The movement from loneliness to solitude is a movement that allows us to perceive interruptions as occasions for a conversion of heart, which makes our responsibilities a vocation instead of a burden, and which creates the inner space where a compassionate solidarity with our fellow human beings becomes possible. The movement from loneliness to solitude is a movement by which we reach out to our innermost being to find there our great healing powers, not as a unique property to be defended but as a gift to be shared with all human beings. And so, the movement from loneliness to solitude leads us spontaneously to the movement from hostility to hospitality.

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What and/or whom are you “anxiously reacting” to instead of “lovingly responding”?

Are you living in solidarity and compassion with those in your life?

I encourage you to get together with your community and prayerfully and gracefully ask each other these questions.

“To be free is…”

To be a success, to be admired, means that we are competent in what we do. But for most of us, it’s not enough just to be good at something. True success, we feel, comes from the recognition of others. This desire for success and admiration can be a good thing, for it encourages us to work well and hard; however, such a desire for success can draw us away from acting justly and serving others.

To be free is to put justice, truth, and service to others over and above our own personal gain or our need for recognition, power, honour, and success. When we cling to personal power and success, when we are frightened of losing social status, then we are in some way denying our humanity; we become slaves to our own needs. We are not free.

Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, p 108

“…all creatures live by participating in the life of God” – An Excerpt from Wendell Berry’s The Burden of the Gospels

I think Jesus recommended the Samaritan’s loving-kindness, what certain older writers called ‘holy living,’ simply as a matter of propriety, for the Samaritan was living in what Jesus understood to be a holy world. The foreground of the Gospels is occupied by human beings and the issues of their connection to one another and to God. But there is a background, and the background more often than not is the world in the best sense of the word, the world as made, approved, sustained, and finally to be redeemed by God. Much of the action and the talk of the Gospels takes place outdoors: on mountainsides, lake shores, river banks, in field and pastures, places populated not only by humans but by animals and plants, both domestic and wild. And these non-human creatures, sheep and lilies and birds, are always represented as worthy of, or as flourishing within, the love and care of God.

To know what to make of this, we need to look back to the Old Testament, to Genesis, to the Psalms, to the preoccupation with the relation of the Israelites to their land that runs through the whole lineage of the prophets. Through all this, much us implied or taken for granted. In only two places that I remember is the always implicit relation – the practical or working relation – of God to the creation plainly stated. Psalm 104:30, addressing God and speaking of the creatures, says, ‘Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created…’ And, as if in response, Elihu says to Job (34:14-15) that if God ‘ gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together…’ I have cut Elihu’s sentence a little short so as to leave the emphasis on ‘all flesh.’

Those also are verses that don’t require interpretation, but I want to stretch them out in paraphrase just to make as plan as possible my reason for quoting them. They are saying that not just humans but allcreatures live by participating in the life of God, by partaking of His spirit and breathing His breath. And so the Samaritan reaches out in love to help his enemy, breaking all the customary boundaries, because he has clearly seen in his enemy not only a neighbor, not only a fellow human or a fellow creature, but a fellow sharer in the life of God.

When Jesus speaks of having life more abundantly, this, I think, is the life He means: a life that is not reducible by division, category, or degree, but is one thing: heavenly and earthly, spiritual and material, divided only insofar as it is embodied in distinct creatures. He is talking about a finite world that is infinitely holy, a world of time that is filled with life that is eternal. His offer of more abundant life, then, is not an invitation to declare ourselves as certified ‘Christians,’ but rather to become conscious, consenting, and responsible participants in the one great life, a fulfillment hardly institutional at all.

To be convinced of the sanctity of the world, and to be mindful of a human vocation to responsible membership in such a world, must always have been a burden. But it is a burden that falls with greatest weight on us humans of the industrial age who have been and are, by any measure, the humans most guilty with desecrating the world and of destroying creation. And we ought to be a little terrified to realize that, for the most part and at least for the time being, we are helplessly guilty. It seems as though industrial humanity has brought about phase two of original sin. We all are now complicit in the murder of creation. We certainly do know how to apply better measures to our conduct and our work. We know how to do far better than we are doing. But we don’t know how to extricate ourselves from our complicity very surely or very soon. How could we live without degrading our soils, slaughtering our forests, polluting our streams, poisoning the air and the rain? How could live without the ozone hole and the hypoxic zones? How could we live without endangering species, including our own? How could we live without the war economy and the holocaust of the fossil fuels? To the offer of more abundant life, we have chosen to respond with the economics of extinction.

If we take the Gospels seriously, we are left, in our dire predicament, facing an utterly humbling question: How must we live and work so as not to be estranged from God’s presence in His work and in all His creatures? The answer, we may say, is given in Jesus’s teaching about love. But that answer raises another question that plunges us into the abyss of our ignorance, which is both human and peculiarly modern: How are we to make of that love an economic practice?

That question calls for many answers, and we don’t know most of them. It is a question that those humans who want to answer will be living and working with for a long time – if they are allowed a long time. Meanwhile, may Heaven guard us from those who think they already have the answers.

– Wendell Berry, “The Burden of the Gospels,” in The Way of Ignorance p. 135-137

Genesis, Vocation, and Master Penmenship

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Every human being has a call to be a maker. This vocation is one of cultivation, of using the resources before us, alongside the talents within us, for betterment of those around us through partnering with the God among us. This is (partly) what it means to be made in God’s image.

This is part of the creation mandate found in Genesis. Many readings of “the beginning” focus on particular polemical readings, either glossing over or completely ignoring the narrative trajectories these primal texts put us on. From the onset of our story, we find a God getting down in the dirt – the image of a gardener on his knees comes to mind – hands covered in earth. Breath is infused into the earthenware known as human and he is told to get on with being this cultivator, this maker. In short: be a culture maker. This is not a solo venture, but one completed and carried out in community, as the Genesis story tells.

And so we find that our spiritual life is comprised of our physical life. Our vocation is a holistic one: the spiritual manifesting itself in the physical. The two are intimately incorporated into one. Proper usage of earthly materials along with the proper wielding of our personal beings is at the center of the spiritual life. We do damage to the Genesis story and in turn to what it means to image God when we set up false dichotomies between the spiritual and the physical. God is one who gets down in the muck, not who stands above it all.

True spirituality, therefore, is not a denial of or seeking an escape from earthy stuff, but is a participatory relationship with and resting in one’s interconnected place within all this earthiness.

This vocation is not dependent upon one’s occupation. The call – vocation literally means “calling”; same word as vocal – is to use and put forth objects of love. Love in the sense of making them with love for others whom you love because you know a God who does the same. Be it a plumber, teacher, or mayor; those employed, unemployed, or under-employed; the call is the same: creatively use what you are given and who you are to be a cultivator of love.

To be human is to cultivate love.

An example of these thoughts is found in the video of Master Penmen below. I hope you find it both challenging and inspiring as I did.