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
2 thoughts on “A New Thing, Part 3 of 3”
Such fertile ground you are plowing and planting this Lenten season. “… [I]t takes WE to make ME:” If the world in this pandemically-isolated, nationalistic, racially-charged, violent time in which we’re living could be granted words to live by, I think I would nominate those words. When I started to write, I thought I had more to express, and at some point, I will, but for this moment, I think I will let those words stand and perhaps settle into my own consciousness.
Thank you again, my friend, for your reliable witness to God’s truth through the examination of truth as it manifests in your own life. I love that about your work always, that you never offer what you yourself have not experienced, examined, evaluated, and found worthy and necessary for your own soul’s sojourn here. I read your words and most often find myself nodding and whispering “Amen.” So, once again, dear Paul,“Amen.”
My dear Karen, always, I thank you for reading of, reflecting on, and responding to my writings.
I thank you, this time, especially for this your kind word: “I love that about your work always, that you never offer what you yourself have not experienced, examined, evaluated, and found worthy and necessary for your own soul’s sojourn here.” Indeed, it is the ground of my own living on which I stand and seek to peer into the heavens and round about me striving to make sense of what, at least (and, at times, at most) for me is a nonsensical existence…
And, from this my personal perspective, I recognize a grave risk. That is, to make my findings (if not, too, my feelings) the source and substance of whatever sense I discover. My awareness of this danger (ever present due to my susceptibility, as each of us is, to the height [which is to say, the depth] of human hubris) compels me to seek and to stay in communication (aye, in community!) with others (of whom I number you and Loretta principal participants in our ongoing life’s conversations), so, proverbially, to bounce the ball of my perceptions off the walls of the souls of others that it may come back to me in a different way that is fuller, clearer.
Now, having said all this, as I, too, look with dismay on “this pandemically-isolated, nationalistic, racially-charged, violent time”, I oft say to myself: If I can behold the truth of how we make me, why, oh, why does it seem so difficult for so many others to come to terms with our innate human connectedness?
Much love back to you, dearest sister,