The Way, The Truth, The Life
We are living in a time of unparalleled change. Old guards are falling to new guards. The tug-of-war between the sacred and secular is real and daily. What should we hold onto from our past; what must we now welcome as our new future? How do we live in the world, but not lose our souls to the world?
This past week, I read a provocative article on climate change. Did you know that we have inflicted more damage to Mother Earth in the last three decades than in her entire existence? The sickness of our skies, seas, soil and trees is real. If we don’t soon transform into “healers” of our planet, she will be the next Pluto. By divine design, our fate is bound to the fate of our earthly home. Somewhere along the way, we forgot that earth was God’s dwelling place. We are His guests. Although we are not sitting at the global negotiating tables, we do have agency. I am thankful to Steve Vining and Green Chalice for giving my family tangible ways to care for God’s creation: recycling, limiting plastic, and resource conservation in home and workplace (as easy as changing lightbulbs/batteries). I want to teach my children that they must be humble stewards of their square inch of green.
Two new social media platforms have recently launched, one is called TRUTH and the other, Metaverse. So many competing voices for the “truth.” Who are we to believe? The New York Times or the Wall Street journal; CNN or Fox News; elephants or donkeys; the conservative or progressive Church? When will we wake up and realize we only see through the mirror dimly? Egos hinder a comprehension of ultimate truth. Our perceptions are as flawed as we are ourselves. Our attempts to control “truth” are spurred by fear that we don’t have control over anything. I lament how much we lose in our determination to fight for a side: the loss of sacred time, the loss of important relationships, the loss of joy. Greek myths, Shakespeare’s sagas, and our biblical narratives all reflect a universal truth: the absence of humility inevitably leads to heartbreak, chaos—tragedy.
Jesus’ words: I am the way, the truth, the life were meant to free us. He made it simple: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Build bridges instead of trenches, beginning at home and spilling out into the greater universe. It is as simple as leaving the Thanksgiving table this year better for you having been there.
On the Metaverse website, the company states that they will be the next evolution of earthly social connection. Imagine an alternative universe where “important” (notice I didn’t say meaningful) life is virtual; where human interaction and relationships are navigated through screens. Sounds like Invasion of the Body Snatchers to me. Social media does not feed our souls. It leaves us empty, insecure, isolated and diminished. True relationship happens in the flesh. Social media is a cheat. It reflects a limited self-portrait of one’s personhood. We are more complex, flawed, wondrous and holy. The record numbers of anxiety and depression in today’s culture is frightening, especially for teenagers who have no concept of life before iPhones and social media. The domino effect is already in motion. Help me launch a sacred counter movement. I call it: Put down your phone! #Put down your phone and go into nature. #Put down your phone and hold another’s hand. #Put down your phone and read a book. #Put down your phone and kiss your lover, child, pet. #Put down your phone and sit in silence. #Put down your phone and stir a pot of chili on the stove. #Put down your phone and sink your hands in the dirt. #Put down your phone and dance!
I maintain hope for the Church during this human crisis. Sundays used to be sacred and need again to be sacred. Practicing the sabbath blesses us with that peace only God can give.
We are at a crossroads. We must reconcile for ourselves what is up or down. What is good or bad. What is truth or fiction. What is our unique role in this time and place for increasing goodness and hope? God placed inside us an invisible compass, the holy spirit, so we can navigate the chaos inside and outside of us. Let us not be at war with each other. Underneath all the bluster lives a tender, vulnerable heart in each of us. God is counting on us to rediscover what truly matters! Look to change an outcome for good. Extend a word of encouragement and watch what can happen.
Several years ago, I participated in a funeral for a man I greatly admired. With intentionality, he sought the sacred before the secular; relationships before accolades; God before man. My benediction: “What could better be said about a human being than he or she was kind and gentle, walked humbly on this planet, proved noble in life’s pursuits and trusted God in all things.” This is a template for deep and meaningful living.
Our culture sends mixed messages, but God does not. Maybe we should spend less time turned outward and more time turned inward. The soul knows what is right, true, and can be trusted.
During the spiritual wilderness of the Pandemic, I began a list of essentials to remind me of who God is, who I am, and ways to be accountable for the life I am called to live. Create your own list with your family this Thanksgiving or feel free to work from mine. Display these in a prominent place, taped to your bathroom mirror, hanging from your car visor, front and center on the refrigerator or the family computer screen.