. . . especially when things feel divided or even one-sided. Earlier this week, we all (well, most of the world) watched Tom Brady and the New England Patriots make an unbelievable, record-breaking comeback from a 25 point deficit in the second half to win the Super Bowl in overtime. Responding to one reporter on the field after the game, Brady said, “We never really thought we were out of it.”
Well, I generally don’t like the idea of using sports metaphors and comments as ideal illustrations for a deeper, transformative spirituality. But here goes . . . When the chips are down, and it looks like the odds, or the conflict or life itself, is simply too frustrating or depressing to keep on keeping on, that’s when we show up. That’s the actual game. That’s the good stuff. That’s why we’re here. We’re never really out of it. We’re in it all the time. The Beatitudes (blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, etc.) — they’re not about life in the end zone. It’s all on the field. That’s where life is and where we are invited to show up for one another — in the midst of the divisiveness, the confusion, the fear, and even the gloating.
OK, I can’t believe I just used a football game as a metaphor for spiritual life. In fact, both teams probably never thought they were out of the game. So the metaphor is only so accurate. Be that as it may, here are some thoughts as we head into the weekend.
I’m reading an interesting book by Chuck Klosterman, “But What if We’re Wrong: Thinking About the Present as if it Were the Past.” In it, Klosterman suggests that when we look back at our lives, individually and culturally, and at the wider history of civilization, we see how often we were wrong about so much that we now take for granted — gravity, astronomy, science, psychology. So what would it be like to actually live as if the future were now present?
I think that’s something of what the Beatitudes are about — “here’s how the kingdom of God looks, the peaceable kingdom, a reality of love and justice. It’s not in the future — it’s meant for now.” I think it’s interesting as a side note that the root word for justice means “in right relationship, in balance” (hence the “scales of justice”). My thought is that maybe we live into that reality by “showing up for each other.”
To quote the rabbi and writer, Brad Hirschfield, showing up for the other is both “more powerful, and not as easy as it sounds, because who the ‘other’ is depends less on who ‘they’ are and more on who you are.” Who is the other for you right now? Who is the person with whom you least identify, be they an undocumented alien or a person with whom you can no longer speak because they voted differently than you?
Show up with a casual note asking about family or job. Show up with a cup of coffee or a pastry or simple favor. Show up with a smile or a friendly gesture to a hijab-wearing Muslim. Show up to an angry protestor with curiosity about fears and hopes, not opinions. Seek to learn from life, not so much to define it. Defining it for one another seems to be keeping us further apart. We could all use a little more “kindness” capital in our country right now.
I hope you can join us this Sunday in eleven:eleven celebration as we explore what it means to be merciful, just, and pure in heart — to think about ways we can show up for one another.
Sunday, February 12
The Beatitudes — The Art of Being:
“Living in the Future Present”
Music by Jackson Brown and Jewel
with guest pianist Justin Pate and vocalist Lisa Stovall!
Hope to see you Sunday!