Wednesday, October 21, 2020

An Experience of Waking Up

 Life should be a process of waking up. I was recently thinking about some of my own waking up experiences. I define waking up experiences as times when you realize that something is other than what you thought it was, when you become aware that what you know is insufficient, or skewed, or seen through a lens that distorts your vision. Paul talks about seeing a dim reflection in a mirror in 1 Corinthians 13:12, and Rumi says “Wake up, wake up! You have slept millions and millions of years. Why not wake up this morning?”

 Father Richard Rohr had a recent series of daily messages about corporate sin, the sin perpetrated by powers and principalities that we often fail to see as sin because we benefit from the system. Reading these reminded me of one particular waking up experience. I woke up to the way I was swept up in a materialistic, acquisitive culture, and how incompatible that was to my faith.

 I was not asleep to the disparities among people, both within our country and in the world in general. I’d participated in mission trips and I knew that I had significantly more resources than most of the world’s people. But the waking up was the recognition that I was allowing myself to be swept along in the general current of American culture, which is oriented toward acquiring, holding, and protecting assets, and that this way of living did not feel healthy for me as I sought to practice being a faithful disciple of Jesus, who had very few assets.

 It’s interesting how we pick and choose which parts of Jesus’ teachings we want to follow and practice, or any of the Bible’s teachings for that matter. Some of my waking up experiences have been around the recognition that I cherry-pick which of Jesus’ examples I try to follow and which I choose to ignore or explain away as irrelevant or unrealistic.

 I realize that to live in our culture I will need certain assets to function effectively in the vocation I feel called to practice. But I am also aware that much of what I have is superfluous. While I am far from living as simply as Jesus did, I am continuing to work to detach from the desire to acquire and hold material assets because it is an expected practice of our culture. It requires attention and discipline, because even in the Western Church, we don’t necessarily advocate for going against the grain of our culture with regard to materialism.

What experiences have you had of waking up? Are you fighting to stay asleep? These are questions worth pondering, and questions I return to time and time again.


Thursday, October 1, 2020