As the days go on, it is easy to become frustrated and weary. We are worried about our parents and our children, about those who staff hospitals and clinics, and about our own well being. We wonder what we can do to be helpful without encroaching on the distancing that we know will reduce the pain.
In a recent bible study we were looking at Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed. You can look it up in Mark 4:30-32; Matthew 13:31-32; and Luke 13:18-19.
In summary, a human sows a seed, a small seed. That seed grows into something much bigger that then participates in the world by sheltering other creatures. Parables are complex, but one way of understanding this story is that our human actions, however small, participate in processes larger than ourselves and result in outcomes that we can not always imagine. Those outcomes emerge from trusting the goodwill of many human sources, and the benevolence of natural processes that work without our control.
The point might be that we are not in control of what happens, but our best actions contribute to a larger good that we cannot fully anticipate.
The theme that we are not in control is picked up in a recent reflection by Roman Catholic theologian Richard Rohr. The following is a quote:
“Gerald May (1940–2005), one of my own teachers, very helpfully contrasts willingness with willfulness:
Willingness implies a surrendering of one’s self-separateness, an entering-into, an immersion in the deepest processes of life itself. It is a realization that one already is a part of some ultimate cosmic process and it is a commitment to participation in that process. In contrast, willfulness is a setting of oneself apart from the fundamental essence of life in an attempt to master, direct, control, or otherwise manipulate existence.
For many of us, this may be the first time in our lives that we have felt so little control over our own destiny and the destiny of those we love. This lack of control initially feels like a loss, a humiliation, a stepping backward, an undesired vulnerability. However, recognizing our lack of control is a universal starting point for a serious spiritual walk towards wisdom and truth.
Please join me in trying to be faithful to that walk, even as we pray for God’s mercy for those who suffer, and especially the most marginalized”.
Let us continue to do our best in small ways to connect with others, to contribute to the service of those less fortunate, and to keep ourselves and one another as safe as we can.
Your church will continue to do our best to support you through communication and connection, spiritual resources, and worship.
May the spirit of Jesus go with you and stay with you, now and always!