Regular readers (assuming for the moment there are any; kind of like assuming there really are unicorns, I know) of this blog will have noticed that my output/production has slowed to a mere trickle or less in recent months. Not to worry, I have not met with any disasters or any such thing. It’s just one of those seasons of life where there is more absorbing going on. I continue to follow current events with keen interest, devote myself to the ongoing task of the interpretation of ancient texts in the context of modern situations, and engage in the daily tasks of visiting the sick, encouraging the downhearted, interfering in local politics, and pretending that I’m several decades younger than the calendar would allow. So: an interesting observation, coming right up.
For reasons completely mystifying to me, I find that as an individual human being, I, the writer of this blog, am, on the whole, more happy than not. This is an astonishing revelation, and it runs counter to the assumptions under which I have operated for a long time. A colleague recently made this observation to me, though, and I could not easily refute him: that I come across as one who operates from a center of deep contentment. I laughed (a deeply contented belly laugh) when I heard that. It’s true that all the things that I think should worry me (household bills, the state of my own and others’ health, how well various groups and organizations are doing, the economy, the environment, local politics, international politics, whether I can really get something worthwhile accomplished before I die, and on and on) don’t actually worry me as much as some part of me thinks they should — and I’m not even all that worried about this lack of worry. Something has changed, some corner has been turned within me.
I am content, but I am not satisfied. I cannot be satisfied while others are hungry, in danger, depressed, discouraged, at risk. So today, for example, in one hour I will be at a local community center where groups of citizens will come together to try to match needs and resources with regard to adequate housing. Later, I’ll be on hand to rejoice with a neighbor’s family as they celebrate a high school graduation. Tomorrow, I’ll think out loud in the presence of others concerning the vision of Isaiah the prophet, and how in a time of change and turmoil (and what time is not?) he had a glimpse of holiness and renewed and deepened his own sense of his place in unfolding history. It is to be hoped that this great vision will be renewed in someone at our own moment in unfolding history. I am content, not satisfied, but hopeful and somehow confident.
Could we be entering the generation where the word of God is no longer twisted to serve the interests of nations and individual peoples, at the expense of others, but in which the truth that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1) is indeed recognized and followed up with “He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 46:9)?
The ninteenth century saw the end of the institution of slavery as an accepted part of the normal life of nations, for the first time in the history of the planet. I am now praying that something comparable will happen in the twenty-first century with regard to the institution of warfare. There is more biblical foundation for the latter than for the former.
Content, yes, for myself; but for this old world there’s a lot of work to do. I’ll do it online, on the ground, and in the secret place of prayer. I am confident that I won’t be the only one.