What does the Lord require...

It is a humbling and beautiful experience to visit loved ones - especially
as they move closer to death. We had the honor to reconnect with our dear friends last week in Tucson and I am deeply grateful for their tender welcome: in some ways, it felt like we had never left and it has been seven years. So while I am likely to share deeper reflections about all of this in the days to come, tonight I am aware of a few things that became clearer to me during our recent sojourn in the desert.

First, no matter how active I am, most of the time I cannot change most of the facts of my life. To be sure, there is always an element of free choice in each encounter; in this I have a measure of control to exercise for good or evil. Cumulatively, these small choices add up and come to define both my heart and the content of my soul. But in the moment they often seem small and insignificant. Small wonder that in the rush of my quotidian commitments, it is all too easy to opt out of compassion or take a pass on love in order to simply get the job done and move on to the next task. God knows I've done that all too often.

The problem with taking a pass when it comes to small acts of love is that over the course of a lifetime these small lapses start to shape the contour of your truest self. Grace is always available, but cutting corners on compassion causes us to wake up one morning only to discover that we hate who we've become. In a tender way, this trip reminded me that at the end of each day all I really have to offer another is my time and love.  And if I choose to avoid doing this - if I avoid going deeper and postpone the risks and inconveniences of love - slowly I  start to shrink and wither away. "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much." (Luke 16:10) 

Second, this trip underscored in a whole new way for me that life is all too
short and precious, so why not savor and celebrate fully the blessings that have been so freely shared? Sometimes during this past week, it was an old story that made me laugh until I cried, other times it was sitting at a banquet table and lingering over good food and wine with sweet friends. From time to time it involved the common prayer of our tears or just sitting together in the silence of a love that will always be greater than our words. 

We may not be able to change much in life, but we can touch one another profoundly. And strangely, when we give ourselves over to this gift of love, something sacred happens and what once seemed so small and even insignificant becomes food for the journey. I don't know why this is true. I don't understand how sharing tears or laughter or holding one another's hands in the silence is enough to face our deepest fears and shame, but it is.  Over and over, after the stories and feasting was done and the laughter and tears were finished, all we could say to one another was "thank you." I kept thinking, "For what? For sitting here? For being incoherent and heart-broken? For loving you so deeply that my head aches and my mind has shut down?"
I guess... because all we could say was thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing love. Thank you for opening your house to us. Thank you for cooking this meal. Thank you for weeping with us. Thank you for all the joy and sorrow we have shared over so many years. And so much more, yes? And all we could say was thank you.

This was a humbling and holy time. Now that we are home - and have our sweet puppy Lucie back with us (thank you John and Lauryn for caring and loving her as your own) - I am letting all of it wash over me in thanksgiving. I was humbled this week by the love my friends shared with us and humbled by my inadequacy in the face of their pain. I was humbled by the blessings opened to me in all of our experiences and humbled, too by God's grace breaking out in the most ordinary places and events. 

One of the texts for this week is Micah 6:8: What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love compassion and walk humbly with your God. My hunch is that the practice of humility is the key to becoming an agent of God's justice and compassion. 

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