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3.19.2008

Wednesday: Holy Week

I would like to talk about distraction. I have noticed that Christians - Protestants in particular - spend a lot of energy feeling guilty for being distracted. Much of their guilt may be well-earned, a right response to careless error. Much of their guilt may be nothing more than spent energy. Hold on - this is not a 'their' 'them' matter. This is me as much as anyone. I have prayed against distraction, confessed it to my neighbour as one of my chief sins, fought and forgot about it over and over. I am distracted from thoughts of God by thoughts of the world, thoughts of myself, and even thoughtlessness. More specifically, I think oftener of food and boys and books and movies and which song to play in the car than I do of the great sacrifice made on my behalf by the Creator of the universe. And I am ashamed.

Sometimes more than I should be. I am often ashamed because I have this notion that faith is proved by frequent and unique thought about God. In the same way that I have often thought of effective prayer as consisting in frequent and unique words to God. I forget that I am child of God because of what He did for me - not because of how I am behaving concerning or because of Him and certainly not because of what I'm thinking about Him or how frequently I think it. I forget that some of what I call 'distraction' is really just being a human and living life (i.e. preparing a meal, relating with other human creatures, observing and reacting to the needs of my pet).

I recall that Wednesday a few years ago, a Wednesday of Ash, when I saw The Passion in the theatre. Jenny drove me home in silence. I was grateful for that gift of privacy, for watching that film inevitably engenders a period of real and burdensome grief. Weeping is almost silly, the sorrow is so great. I walked into my dorm room, closed the door behind me, and wondered: 'what now? how can i continue to live a normal life?' It was well past midnight, but how could I sleep? Even crawling into bed seemed audaciously careless. But I did. And when I woke up the next morning, I ate breakfast. I went to class. I read some things that had been assigned, chatted with friends (chatted!), did laundry, wrote a letter, any number of mundane and 'careless' things. Christ died, and I lived my life.

This is not sinful.

Praise be to the God of our salvation, who died and conquered death so that I may live my life!
Praise be to the Creator of the earth, who was born from a uterus, chatted with friends, and lived his life!

Now it may or may not matter whether I am remembering him in this moment, but this moment is redeemed regardless of my recollection! He has sanctified my mundane moments, whether I anoint them with my memory or not. It is good for me to remember to do the dishes, good to talk to the pool man about politics, good to buy a gift for my sister. It is possible to do all these things for the glory of God even without that intention. Do these things generously, responsibly, kindly, and attentively. Be honest, conscientious, consistent, and thorough. Righteous action is better done than intended, considered, or declared. These little things are holy because Christ is renewing the world - not because you or I have been thinking about holiness.

Don't get me wrong: we really should always be remembering Jesus. But we should be remembering him in the same way we remember our mothers or our friends. Not out of a sense of duty, but because that which is essential, beautiful, interesting, or meddlesome comes to mind frequently without much effort. And there is no one more essential, beautiful, or interesting (I am not so sure about meddlesome - it is probably the wrong word and the right idea) than Jesus, the Man on whom God's favour rests. And if you have been much neglecting this Man, I will not withhold from you either your guilt or your sense of it. Now, go and sin no more!

But when you are again walking with God in the cool of the day, please know that he is not farther from you in the warmth - even if you are more concerned with your bath than with the beauty of his face or his mysterious ways. He is near even then, even when we aren't remembering. Because he does not always minister through the mind, but even and often through the seemingly mindless things we do. And when we are awash with thoughts of other things. And when we sleep, and when we rise. (Even before our first cup of coffee.)

1 comment:

  1. ah, what a lovely little bit of grace i have received from reading this. --kb

    ReplyDelete

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