Let's go home
Whether your presidential candidate won or lost, one thing most of us can agree on is that we all woke up on November 9 having wandered far in a land that is waste. It reminds me of the prodigal son who woke up one day in a pig sty. He just felt dirty, depleted, and wanted to go home. Whether your candidate won or lost, you might have felt something like that – a little dirty, depleted, and wishing you could go back to a time and place when you felt less anxious about life and more at ease with the people around you.
We have been living in a world of incessant blaming, ridicule, and fault-finding. The atmosphere has been one of perpetual anger and discontent. And all of it has been aggravated by a 24-hour news cycle and the like-minded herding and venting that characterize so much of social media.
The good news is that, like the prodigal son, you can go home. And, as Jesus said, you know the way. Just try this experiment.
On your lunch break one day, spend 30 minutes tuning into Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN, or log onto your favorite social media channel. Just take it all in. When you are logged on or tuned in, do you feel your soul magnified, sort of like listening to the Dona nobis pacem of Bach’s Mass in b-minor? Do you sense your heart rate slowing and your breathing relaxing, deepening? Do you feel more at peace, spiritually calm and a contented smile coming over your face?
The next day on your lunch break, go to the grocery store and buy three jars of peanut butter, three cans of tuna, and three boxes of cereal, and bring them to the church for our pantry. (I know, that’s expensive. You’re going to have to skip a meal or two and a trip to Starbucks in order to stay within your budget.) After dropping off the groceries, stop into the church itself. Touch the water in the font and take a deep breath, and bow to the Lord as you approach the altar. Light a candle, thanking God for all the people who love you, and take another deep breath.
Then sit in your favorite spot, take another deep breath, close your eyes, let your shoulders relax. And with each breath, breathe in God’s love for you, and breathe out any enmity or hurt you have been carrying. Do that for four to five minutes, and just sit quietly so that you can listen for that still, small, voice. When you leave, touch the water again on your way out, and ask God to help you see how he is reaching out to you in the people you encounter that day.
You know the way home, to your true life.
Although an important component of the Christian life is to side clearly with the poor, the powerless, and the marginalized, you probably aren’t going to heal the nation’s divisions by carefully pointing out how wrong your opponents are. But you will almost certainly contribute to the healing of our world by going home; that is, by going deeper into love, by caring for others, by expressing gratitude, by letting go of anxiety and divisions in yourself, and by asking God to help you see him in the people around you.
Anybody who knows me knows that I am not a superstitious, biblical literalist, but I am not embarrassed to say that I think Christ was asking us to take him literally on the Sunday before the presidential election when he said, “I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”