Monday, June 27, 2016

A little life

Just read a novel. It's been too long. I was reminded how much I really like to read (story books). I loved the idea of knowing how 4 people's lives turn out over a span of 40 years in 40 hours. It made me laugh, cry despair and hope all at the same time. Mostly, it made me feel the beauty and the devastation that this world offers. I liked the book. It looked at mental illness, homosexuality, postmodernism, love, friendship. It was honest. It was sad. Sad because it is a stark reminder that life without God is a painful existence.

I am generally drawn to the broken, the complicated. But lately, I have been thinking of the broken as self-centred, and perhaps even self indulgent. It's their own doing to explore (looking at myself) and to get oneself into the weird situation that they are in. If they are broken, there is a certain amount of 'justice due them'. Of course, I think that it is important to live a life authentic, sincere, real to who one is. I think its important to pursue what "I" think God puts in my heart, even during moments when life feels like !@@#%, because it is in living that one is a witness, the journey is in the means (process), not only in the end. But I wonder, where relationships are in this equation. Especially relationships that sometimes seem mundane, burdensome, and even unnecessary.

The easy (and always the right) answer is grace. That I should offer grace to all, and also to myself.  But sometimes, grace is not the answer for spiritual cultivation. I want to reflect about what I think needs to be done.

I am being trained to have an opinion, so these are my thoughts - albeit still developing (with influences from Charles Taylor, Bonhoeffer, Volf, and maybe Ricouer)

- What is authentic to me is not the same as me against the big bad world. It is maybe a calling, a vocation, but it is definitely in some ways rooted to the way we see the world, the context that we are in. Being authentic therefore is more than being against the world - it is a response of one towards the world. Sure there are rubbish things in the world, but I am not sure that its me against the world. It can also be me with the world, me for the world etc etc. I just want to be me cannot be the excuse to absolving responsibilities one has in the world. (of course, the question then is what does it mean to have responsibilities).

For me relationships are a big responsibility. They are constitutive for the authentic life. They make life worth fighting for in some sense. Bonhoeffer speaks about being the vicarious representation for the other. This relationship then is the bond that enables me to represent the other better, more accurately, more truly.  It is also true that relationships can be complicated.. I get the idea of it being restrictive, and burdensome (in some sense i think this is why brexit happened). but it is also what we are about in the end (at least is the core message in the book I just read - the restorative power of friendship).

The question then is, how should I treat/think about those who don't think the same? To those I feel a shared responsibility for these relationships. Sadly, I have to accept that relationships do not have the same role for them as it has for me. On one hand, I know that that i have a relationship with these people too, and this relationship is bounded by feelings of vicarious representation. Of seeking to really love, to lay my life for them... but what do I do with feelings of inadequacy, injustice, indigence, esp to those who are waiting to have a relationship with them.  I see people hurt because of their responses.

What does it mean to have compassion for all?

- What I want to do needs to reflect my values, be a reflection of my authentic journey.  It is my calling, my response - and so I shall not wish one way or the other. People are part of this journey.

- I can't save the world. I can only do my part, in the participation of the mission - where I think people lay central. this means, I need to not feel overly bad about the bad feelings people are feeling.  I need to have my own boundaries - before I become a grumpy old woman.

- I need to love more the people I find are in the wrong. In this sense, love is not a smothering feeling of affection. It is to accord them their rights. to give them due justice, instead of giving them tit for tat. It is to be witness to a God that is the well of unending love. Where love means justice - giving them their space, rights to be who they are. (and also to lay clear what I think the rules of engagement are (eventually))

May grace abound freely for all, and may I remember to not lose wonder of this world.