As I paused and reflected yesterday on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy, it was hard to avoid wanting a clear report card on the progress made on his mission. As I pondered the question, “How are we doing in becoming a more equal and just nation?”, my first thoughts were all negative.
Faith is a terribly challenging experience if you take it seriously. It can truly mess up your life. You find yourself picking up the Bible and trying once again to figure out what Jesus meant by his words and actions. Some of them seem so simple and direct. Others seem to put you at risk in standing up for the marginalized and the poor. You know that if you do so it will change relationships. You are challenged to become like a John the Baptist figure and find your voice to speak. John was a “voice crying out in the wilderness!” Many times, that’s where we find ourselves. In church work and on the political scene we are often in some kind of wilderness trying to cry out and hoping someone hears. Finding your voice, whether it is in the spoken word or the written word or in some kind of action, can be a scary thing. You expose yourself for what you believe is important, and for what you believe is being neglected.
A sermon I heard Sunday got me thinking about a 12-Step friend, Ralph, who would say to me frequently: “Tom, give up, give in, just give.” Ralph was quite a bit older than me, and I dismissed this saying the same way I did when he told me, “Everything is just the way it is supposed to be.” I concluded his was a point of view that came with age and declining aspirations. Yet, I am growing into an understanding of this idea, but more from a sense of acceptance than the loss of capacity to imagine.
The end of year for many of us is a time to complete our annual charitable giving. While the IRS incentives have changed, the community needs certainly haven’t.
Albert Einstein showed up in my life recently. Surprisingly, his message was not about quantum physics or relativity. Instead, he appeared to remind me and others about the power of love and justice. Such a fitting reminder for all of us at this time of the year!
In just a few short years, my whole way of life has become intimately connected to technology to determine where I go and what I do, to know and even control the routes I take. I avoid going to a certain store when I find online that they don’t have a needed item in stock. I never have to wonder if someone tried to call me as it is all recorded. I don’t even have to own a car thanks to rideshare options.
I was not born a Catholic. I was raised with no religious tradition and I didn’t get baptized into the Catholic faith until I was 48. I was born with a female gender identity but because I was identified male at birth. I didn’t come to live as a woman until I was 40. So resurrection, transfiguration and epiphany (the revealing of that which has always been true) were part of my lived experience before I began to understand those words in a faith tradition experience.
As the Thanksgiving festivities wind down, I find myself increasingly disturbed by the seeming reversal in attitudes and actions relative to racial justice and equity in the United States. Just a year ago, over half of American voters wanted a return to healing our race wounds and learning to live and love one another.
Contemplation. As a faithful Christian in a world where the politicized face of Christianity doesn’t always reflect my viewpoint, I seek to publicly share the values I hold dear as a follower of Christ. In this post, I want to share some reflections on what I consider the fundamental basis for my Christian faith: love.
I don’t think much about how faith has driven my 40-year involvement in community development and social justice work. But indeed, faith is what keeps me going.