We are assaulted, it seems, daily with both personal and global issues, the net effect of which can be a disorienting of our spirits. There is, it seems, so much to do. There are, it is true, so many who are reeling from the effects of poverty, disease, addiction, terrorism and more. One opens the paper and the avalanche of suffering begins: London, Egypt, Iraq, Darfur, and so many more. So you shut the paper and look around your own house you still see problems everywhere - the paint is cracking on the exterior walls, the gas cap is shut stuck on the car, the check book won't balance. And those are just the easy problems! What are our options when overwhelmed at every turn?
IGNORE - The popularity of this option is exposed by the levels of debt and addiction in our culture, but the reality is that stepping aside from reality doesn't offer any long term satisfaction because reality is still there when you get back.
FIGHT - This reminds of the song, "The Angry Young Man" by Billy Joel, in which the one who has learned to ignore mocks the one who still thinks that he can make a difference in the world by fighting, or fixing.
So about this instead: How about re-orienting our lives so that we recover once again our two main callings, loving God and loving people. Such recovery will lead to a balance between celebration and suffering. Such recovery will lead to appropriate action, while still enabling rest and the enjoyment of this glorious, yet fallen wolrd in which we live. Let's face it, we either carry too much, or too little of the world's concerns on our shoulders, and both options are killing us. So the one who invites us Life, is the same one who reminds as that 'all the law and the prophets' hinge on these two things - loving God and loving people.
Somehow, striving to maintain this focus enables one to enjoy the sunset during a run, to cherish good food and conversation with friends, and to listen to the music of creation and culture, all the while also stepping in, caring, and working to embody hope and mercy, peace and healing, in our homes, our church, our city, and our globe. I don't do this well - but I'm trying.
I was reminded of this focus on love recently, in a marvelous reading from Thomas Merton's book, "Disputed Questions", and I'll be sharing his thoughts on the matter of loving when I get back from the two day climb that will culminate my vacation. Cheers.