I’m gonna be a bit of a downer…

Really, it’s only the space between us that allows to hold on to our delusions that the world makes sense.  It’s only the geographical, “real” space between us, and also the pyschological mental distancing we do that allows us to maintain the status quo.

Sometimes I think about the fact that in the next life, both this geographical and psychological space will be meaningless.  In the next life, I will be with people who starved to death.  I will be with people who died for lack of water.  I will be with people who died of malaria, when a few dollars worth of mosquito netting is all that it would have taken to save them.

I don’t know how I will justify my $5 mochas, my addiction to pop culture, my wasteful lifestyle.  I’m not the most conspicuous consumer.  I know that I’m allowed to enjoy myself.  I know that I’ve worked hard for what I have.  I know that if my family gave everything we have to the poor, the poor would still be among us.

But still…

Some pretty cool people are doing some pretty cool things.  Somebody got to be thinking about the world wide water shortage, and the expensive wedding ring on her finger, and decided to do something about this disparity.  Check this link.  The idea is some body is auctioning off their wedding ring and using the money to dig wells in Africa.  They are also calling for others to do the same.

There is something so Christ-like in this.  We can talk all we want about how rings, and diamonds, and gold are symbols of love and eternity.  But this beautiful act is turning the symbol into a reality.  Most of us know that many diamonds, and much gold, are mined in pretty questionable circumstances.  I love that this act of self-giving redeems the evil that some of these rings were purchased under.

This was brought to my attention by blogger Jeff Goins.  He sent out a mass email to ask people to spread the word.  Maybe you don’t have a ring, aren’t ready to give it up, or don’t have the resources to purchase one… One thing you can do?  Spread the word.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

3 thoughts on “I’m gonna be a bit of a downer…”

  1. As I often see on the cardboard signs held up by people begging at the ends of interstate off-ramps, “Anything will help,” the same is true in the macrocosm, such as this call to action promoted by Jeff Goins. I suppose I can go to the jeweler’s and have them cut off my gold wedding band (my finger has grown too large to get it off, even with soap), sell the gold, and turn in the money to the poor. Better yet, I could sell anything I have that is just an expensive hobby or valuable investment. Who cares about what or who will support me when I am retired? God cares. He will provide.

    Basically, I’m a pretty simple person. My “carbon footprint” is more like a hoof print, not very large. My house looks spacious and empty compared to most others’ because I have only the furnishings that are necessary to offer basic hospitality. My electric bill even in winter is under $25 a month. I don’t have TV or any but the most basic appliances, a fridge, a range, a micro-wave. My door is always unlocked when I’m home and any number of people know they are welcome there. Some just open the door and let out a “Hello! Anyone home?” and if I’m upstairs in my room, I shout back “Come in! Welcome!” as I descend the stairs to meet them.

    Saint Basil the Great says, “We are all deceived.” That’s what came to mind when I read the opening line of your post, “it’s only the space between us that allows [us] to hold on to our delusions that the world makes sense.” This is the same Church Father who also wrote, “Property is theft.”

    Yet, we go on living as if we were here for our own benefit, our own enjoyment. The truth is, and I speak for myself, I am willing to be selfless, welcoming, loving and generous to people whom I like. True, I like everyone I meet at first, and only when they have proven themselves difficult to deal with do I write them off, and avoid them. Such are the ways of the fleshly man, proving that though I claim to be “already dead” I am not dead yet.

    The struggle goes on, day by day.

    Don’t fault yourself for your $5 mocha, brother, especially if you are buying it to share moments with a friend. To be with even one friend is to be with Jesus, who says, “the disciples do not fast when the bridegroom is with them.” As for living a wasteful lifestyle, Christ has set us free from that, as well as from all our sins, in the Resurrection. If you live with Jesus, without guilt-tripping yourself into obedience you can attain a lifestyle that is pleasing to Him. How? By knowing that He is with you, not by imagining what He would do or want you to do, and then trying to do it. But by simply doing what you see Him doing. Another way of saying this is, since you and Christ are one, let Him do in you and through you what He always does. Let Him be your practical righteousness, not just your theoretical righteousness.

    Remember, Christ is all and in all. He may be asleep in your boat, so in the stormy sea that engulfs your life, cry out to Him, “Lord, save me, I am going down!”

    He is faithful, and He will do as you ask.

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  2. Thanks. It’s nice to hear from you.
    I’ve been praying this prayer, on my way to work lately: “Let my words be Your Words; let my heart be Your Heart; let my peace be Your Peace.” Just once, on my way in… Not exactly a ritual, not exactly a reminder… Just a few words to Him, from me.

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  3. That’s a good prayer, very Orthodox, a little like some verses from the prayer of Saint Patrick, a little like some verses of Saint Francis. The first one an Orthodox saint venerated by Roman Catholics, the second a Roman Catholic saint venerated by Protestants and some Orthodox (like me!).

    Go with God, brother. He is with you, very close, in the midst of your struggles. Trust Him.

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