A Lenten personal reflection on relationships and transformation based on Isaiah 43.16-21
Am I completely done with the small container, my sometimes prison? No. There always is a chance, perhaps a certainty that I will retreat or, at least, I will want to retreat to the safety of my Babylonian captivity, exiled from my Promised Land of authentic living.
Nevertheless, always it is my relationships that help me to be and to become me. For as human experience, Israel’s and our own, makes clear, it takes a village, a people to make a person. In a word, it takes we to make me.
A necessary thing, I think, to recall in our time. We live at hyper-connected, information-cluttered warp speed. We have more ways to be in touch without being in touch. (An awareness heightened by our globally-shared viral-isolation.) Through mail (e-, snail, text, and voice), Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter, I send and receive, on average, 50 messages a day. (And I am willing to conjecture that, in comparison to many others, this number is low.) In most cases (save for Facetime), I see no one’s face, I hear no one’s voice. Nor am I seen or heard.
We live increasingly atomistically in microscopic moments, in tightly spiraling circles, no longer concentric, but separate. Disengaged from others, disengaged from ourselves.
This is a paradox! We humans are naturally-wired physically and psychosocially to be in relationship. Nevertheless, to be in relationship is a radically counter-cultural act.
More paradox! Whenever we take the risk to reach out beyond the boundaries of self, we can (I daresay will) discover anew that we can be fully who we are only when pushed and pulled, sometimes uncomfortably, painfully beyond the small and safe confines of our self-containment. We can be who we are meant to be only through others.
This process of continual liberation and transformation is the prophetic “new thing.” Thus, the question I always ask myself, indeed, I ask my self: Paul, will you stop looking back and look forward? Will you choose to take the journey from your Babylon to your Promised Land?
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
© 2021 PRA