…There should be no division of in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. 1 Cor 12: 25, 26
I feel like I have had so much to think about lately, like so many thoughts have been floating around in my head, often bumping in to each other. But at the very same time, I’ve been having a hard time expressing or organizing these new ideas and realizations. Tonight, fortunately I’ve finally been able to label what I am feeling: grateful, overwhelmed, happy. I’ve had such a sense of joy lately- the kind of contentment that makes you feel like eventually something has to give. I’m not naive of the problems of this world- I see poverty, inequality, and just plain ole’ unfairness everyday. I spend a lot of time reading about or hearing stories of awful illnesses happening to people out of the blue. I’ve realized that this pull between joy and fear is a part of the human condition. We live in tension. Simultaneously a black man can be elected as the 44th president of the US and the rights of same sex couples can be voted away by people who are not effected by their choices. We live in tension. Progress and regression. Joy and pain.
There are two streams of thought I think that have come out of this thinking for me.
Firstly there are times when we are joyful, when we are fulfilled by our communities, when our groups of friends are real and fun and alive, when we share meals and wine, when we laugh, when we run, when we build bridges and genuinely enjoy caring about people- I’ve been experiencing this so much lately. Just pure thankfulness for the amazing people in my life. I’m almost speechless at the opportunities that I have to learn and to feel challenged. These times are beautiful and good. Even amidst the suffering and pain in the world- we can love and live. And for these moments, I am so grateful.
Secondly, we cannot forget the other end of the spectrum. We must remember that at times, we all will suffer- there will be illness, death, loss- there are people in our midst who are in need. We live in tension. I was reading a book about Mother Teresa recently and it got me thinking about her life. I know that she was an incredible woman of God- and that she loved those who were seemingly unloved. But what really captured me was that she chose to enter into the tension, the pain. She did not buffer herself from the groans and pains of humanity. Instead, she willingly cared for the dying, simply because she could. Author Shane Claiborne writes about his time with Mother Teresa and his work with the dying. He writes about how he bandaged the wounds of a man with leprosy, a man who would clearly be dead in a few days, if not hours. I cannot imagine how heartbreaking that would have been for him- to look into the eyes of a man who was hurting, who was dying. Even more so, I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Mother Teresa to dedicate her life to the marginalized. To look death and pain in the face- and to choose to enter into. That is what makes her such an amazing woman – and what makes her life such a testimony to the grace and love of Christ–rather than spending her days avoiding pain, she welcomed it, for the sake of love.
My thoughts on this are still developing, but I know for sure that there is something to be said about this type of lifestyle. I see this quality in some of my friends- women and men who chose to be friends with those who are poor, unstable, ill, lonely. They choose to enter in this suffering, to share the pain. This is part of what it means to be Christ in the world. I am so inspired by people who are able to love like this, to live like this. I am so thankful to be a part of a community that strives to share joy and pain.
We live in such a beautiful, broken, glorious, and bleeding world. I know I am being incredibly redundant when I say that I am thankful. Overwhelmingly, undeservedly thankful. Today, I will thank God for a community that is wise enough and loving enough to reflect His light, acting as conduits of His love, sharing each other’s joy and pain, and living life together, and accepting this tension.