Off the Wall Wednesday 26/6/14
Sometimes one’s voice is loudest and most clearly heard after we have gone. As we reflect on the life of a loved one, friend, mentor, or colleague who has left us, we reflect on the testimony of their life, on the legacy they leave behind. Our reflection on their life will, ultimately lead us to reflect the legacy or testimony we will leave for others.
How do we value our relationships – our interactions with people we are connected with on a personal, professional, social, emotional, cultural, intellectual, ideological, spiritual and meta-physical level? Is it the interaction that takes place, is it what we gain from them, or what we give? Is it a one-sided relationship or a balanced and mutually empowering one?
I recently attended the farewell and celebration of the life of man who was a beloved brother, father and friend. The Gospel reading from John, was the command by Jesus to, “love one another.” The eulogies, reflections and sermon all spoke of relationship. Each sharing was a strand, which when woven together told the story of a man and his humble walk with God and the love, respect, and joy that made him larger than life. His testimony, his legacy can be summed up in one of my favourite mantras is a verse taken from the book of the prophet Micah, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”(Micah 6:8).
This insight offers more than mere concept. It contains the counsel of God and how the we are expected to conduct our affairs, both interior and exterior, as individuals who are also members of the human family. As such, we find ourselves in relationships with many others. God's justice is not just for one or for some; it is for all. If most of us believe that each of us is created in the image of God, then is not each of us entitled to God's justice? Having a right relationship means radically changing both our individual behaviour and social structures so that our way of life honours all of God's creation.
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to give an early morning “team talk” to a group of young swimmers, preparing for a three-day competition. Having previously spoken to them about finding “their joy” in swimming, since it was something they did almost every day, I spoke to them, in a roundabout fashion about the interior “speech of the soul” that we often take for granted or miss-hear because of the noise around us. For those with a spiritual background, I called it prayer. To others I suggested the term quiet-time. Using the breath to breathe in peace and breath out anxiety, worry, frustration, anger, fear.
We can find the answers to questions about how we may act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God, through prayer, quiet reflection. As I shared with those young swimmers, the voice of God is not necessarily found in thunder, earthquake, or fire. It is often found in the quietest of places, and that is where we search for true justice.
Living in right relation with God calls us to living in just relationships with our neighbours. When that first century lawyer asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, "you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength... and … love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." Jesus made the connection between the love of God, with a love of neighbour. The two are inextricably related. One cannot love God without being concerned for one's neighbour. God's justice must therefore intersect our human justice. This justice intersects our relationships.
The question, at the end of the day, is how seriously we take all our relationships. How serious are we about having right relationships with each person, each creature we have a relationship with, or even those whom we encounter occasionally? This all comes from how seriously we take our relationship with God, from which springs our relationship with the universe, our relationship with ourselves and all creation.
Think about the people and creatures with whom you have a relationship. Think about those you have encountered in the last seven days. Beyond the nature of your relationships, what is the state of your relationship with them? What is it that you can do to improve that relationship? What is you are willing to do? What is it that you must do to restore balance to that relationship?
We will only succeed, we will only prosper; we will only have peace when each of us has a right relationship with each other. Love one another. That is the truly “golden” rule.
“Simplicity, Serenity, Spontaneity”