Thursday, February 19, 2009

Being the Best We Can Be

I've been hung up on the idea of transformative events lately. It may have been that article in Christian Century. That article, you might remember, led me to think about the crucifixion as transformative rather than redemptive. Our Beyond EfM group was talking about mystical experiences and I was struck by how easy we all found it to judge each other's mystical experiences and find them wanting. It occurs to me that one might think of a mystical experience as an opportunity for transformation. It doesn't have to me something earth shattering like the crucifixion or an out of body experience, but I think a mystical experience must transform us, change us, in some way.
So, for a couple of days now, I've been thinking about transformative events in other aspects of life, events that have the potential to change us as individuals and as a country. Maybe I've more been hoping for a transformative event...
This "me generation" thing has gotten totally out of control. I see it in traffic, in the subtle jostling for position in the grocery store check-out lines, in the way we interrupt each other mid-sentence. In our adult ed series on civil discourse, we've been practicing a technique of triad discussion that forces us to truly listen to the speaker, not in preparation for rebuttal, but to restate their thoughts and build on them. It is not a comfortable exercise. It can be a transforming exercise.
I think there are countless times each day that can be transforming events, little things that catch us up short and ask us to reconsider a closely held opinion. I see it in myself, my fellow volunteers, and the clients at the food bank. As we see more and more clients coming in who look more and more like us, we confront how close each of us might be to financial chaos. The clients just feel like their world is collapsing. It is not a time for them to be transformed, it is a time for them to survive. For the rest of us, and for our clients at some future time, it is something that causes us to stop, give thanks that we do not need a food basket this week and be a little transformed. For just that brief moment and, maybe, a little longer we are changed from "me first" to "we are all in this life together."
Grand gestures, earth-shattering revelations, crucifixions -- they grab us and force us into the transformation, but the little transformative events are cumulative. The first little one may slip past us, and the second, and the third, but, eventually (if we are really lucky or perceptive or something), we are transformed. We become part of "on earth as it is in heaven." We begin to live into the crucifixion as a transformative event.
As I have said before, I had high hopes that Barack Obama's election as President of the U.S. might be a transformative event. And I think it was for a lot of people. But I am crushed when I see that it was not transformative for everyone. I am filled with an anger, a righteous indignation, I think, when I hear people misrepresent the stimulus bill. I so want everyone to have become better people, closer to what I believe God wants us to be -- advocates for the weakest among us. I want us all to read the legislation before we accept someone's interpretation of it. I want us to feel the weight of someone else's cloak of pain. I want us all to be -- transformed.

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