Hello there. (Please read that with the proper Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi inflection).
I’m sitting here in the basement of our new home (we moved at the end of October), curled up in a corner of the sectional sofa, our two Mini Aussie pups (Abbey Road and Eleanor Rigby) snoozing at my feet. The multi-colored lights of what I call the “Ugly Batman Christmas Tree” (an artificial tree full of mismatched ornaments, including Batman) cheerily twinkle. For a moment, my soul can breathe.
It’s been too long. I’ve allowed distractions and stressors to consume my heart and mind, and allowed them to silence my voice in this space. It’s not just been the pressure of heavy reading and assignments at seminary. It’s not just been the time and energy that ministry requires.
No, rather it’s been criticisms (about seventy percent internal, from my own self, to be fair) and a lack of validation and the constant, nagging, stupid wondering if what I bring to the table has any value at all. And so as I work through these feelings, and process the hits and blows, this prompt, and my coming back to writing, could not have come at a better moment.
Kate says: beyond.
It’s time we look beyond and let go of what has always been.
It’s time we move beyond and let go of who we’ve always been.
It’s time we believe beyond what we have always believed, trusting God to be bigger and better.
Looking back over the collective trauma of the last year, I can’t help but wonder if some of our struggle lies in refusing to look, to move, and to believe beyond. We think: our routine has always been this way, and we have always lived that way, and God has always done this thing. Our desire for both comfort and power, as well as our lack of imagination, has revealed itself quite starkly these last twelve months.
Of course I am speaking very broadly. And of course I do not condemn anyone for mourning what has been lost.
But as 2020 draws to a close, and we are faced with the same situation we’ve been living in since early spring, I wonder why we’re still behaving as though we are surprised. Why we are trapped in mourning. Specifically the mourning of routine and tradition. Maybe mourning isn’t even the right word. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I do know that we seem to keep on living as though the existence of this pandemic is brand new information, and can’t believe that we have to adjust. How dare anyone ask us to adjust.
I think there’s a lesson here that we’re missing.
Or refusing to learn.
I spend a lot of time at home, both out of temperament and out of illness. I have had to make peace with the fact that I don’t get to and won’t get to do all of the things that I want to do. I have had to learn to see (and continue asking God to give me eyes to see) God working in the very small, very mundane, and very quiet moments. I have had to learn that God really does exist and operate here, in my basement, and not just in a church building or in a formal, denominationally-sanctioned program.
God is beyond routine and tradition.
God is beyond temporal allegiances and political movements.
God sets the agenda.
God is beyond what is has been lost.
If I may, and again speaking very broadly, I think we are throwing a collective fit. What do you mean, life doesn’t go our way all the time? What do you mean, we don’t get to do what we want to do, when we want to do it? What do you mean, we have to think of others?
In our clenched-fist, foot-stomping, rage-tears tantrum, we miss what God is doing.
We miss how God is moving, beyond all of our expectations and tidy little boundaries.
I think that, maybe, God is beckoning us into the beyond, where creativity and innovation and community and compassion and newness are.
It would be good if we met God there.