In the middle of this summertime as the nation continues to struggle to make peace with COVID, there appear to be more questions about what we ought to do than there are answers. Or maybe it is the other way around! It is dizzying to consider all of the challenges we face from children returning to school, questions about daycare, huge issues in the economy, the injustice of racism, to the day-to-day stressors of trying to navigate life in a safe way.
Much of what I “do” is reacting to whatever reality I face – I guess it is the same for all of us. When the reality is as daunting as a pandemic and racism, so complex and difficult to comprehend, what to do is hard to figure out. I think most of us consider one way and then another and then maybe conclude, we just do not know.
For example, the other day I had a conversation with my niece, a professional educator. I asked her what she thought about re-opening school in September. She responded by identifying a number of very complex issues, such as conditions of old school buildings, equity of resources among children in different sectors of the city, safety concerns for teachers, availability of technology, and needs and expectations versus reality of budgets. Finally, she said “I just don’t know how we can do it”
In conversations with friends and colleagues about racism, something similar happens. First of all, among white folks, including myself, we easily get defensive. We are certain it exists and also that “I am not racist so it doesn’t really pertain to me”. When the conversations go deeper I realize I am racist and, in fact, I believe most of us are although that is not our intention and it is not conscious. Good people can be racist as it is part of our socialization and our culture. Because racism is multilayered and extremely complex finding effective cures, solutions, is never easy and simple.
In all of this summer’s realities “What To Do” is a tough question to answer. So, maybe that is not the best starting point. Perhaps the better question is “How to Be?”
I think we all need an anchor, a fundamental standing place to view all that is happening. That standing place has to be clear. It is the platform, reference point from which all else flows. I don’t think it is simply about a superficial characteristic of our lives such as, “I’m a Red Sox fan so …” or “I am a Bostonian so …” or “I am a millennial or Boomer so …”
For me, my anchor, my fundamental standing place is my Judeo-Christian faith. I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There I find everything I need to look for “What to Do”. It is yoked to the belief that each of us is a precious child of God and each possesses a dignity and worth beyond measure. From that faith flows the exhortation that we are to love one another as we have been loved and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Looking forward from these July days, I believe it is possible to find a good path through the conundrums of this time by first focusing on how to be before deciding what to do.
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 18/19 2020
In today’s second reading, St. Paul bids us to take comfort in knowing that when God invites us to pray to him he knows our true needs, even if we do not. The Holy Spirit intercedes and prays for us even if we can’t come up with appropriate words; even when we don’t have a clue what to ask for. We are not left alone. Good Stewards know prayer in an important part of living a life in Christ. The important thing is to make space for God.
Do we let God into our hearts?
Do we make room for the Holy Spirit to pray within us?