Hiding Under a Twenty-five Pound Blanket
Theology is procrastination.
And theology is basically my favorite thing.
But the studying God is not a goal. It is a tool. It shows the way forward, through the doctrines and the definitions, out, to the other. The one who is not you.
Whom we have been commanded to love. As we love ourselves.
Jesus says the most important commandment is to love God. With all our strength. Devotedly. My personal act of worship is to engage in the study of theology. It is my great joy and fascination to seek greater understanding of who God is. The God who is. The I Am.
But Jesus says that the second commandment flows from the first. To love the other as you love yourself. To care for self and other flows, inevitably, from your love of God. So, to theologize without moving out, toward neighbor and other is simply procrastination. It is avoiding engaging in the real work of loving the world. Even those we do not understand. Even our enemies.
But why do we do it? Why do we sit in our vinyl-sided towers, piling up gorgeous words about God? Well, for a while it's a loving practice. Its healing and inspiring to contemplate the ineffable, but pretty soon it becomes a way to avoid facing the anxiety we all carry about the second commandment.
How can I find the courage to move past study and castles in the air when there are hurricanes, mass shootings, and hatred? I have been looking at the world with one eye closed for the past week, month, year. It's all just too much. What does loving my neighbor mean when there are thousands of people in the ditches. It would take flock of Samaritans to care for this world. And I am just one person, and my arms are full. Will calling my congress person really help? Will bringing a meal bring respite? What if they don't even like potato leek soup? Will my donated jacket make up for the economic disparity in our society—from which I have clearly benefitted?
So we climb back in our towers, paralyzed by the need. But the one in the ditch, the one in the prison, the sick, the naked, the hungry; they are coming to us, offering us our humanity. Those I have been worrying about saving can teach me to have courage, to be resilient, to be joyful. I am not their savior; I am their neighbor.
Yes, call your congress person. I called mine yesterday. Yes, visit the sick, clothe the naked, fight for the oppressed. Be content with enough and convinced that another's prosperity does not threaten your own. Be fiercely kind. Do all of that. And do it well. If you don't know what your first step should be, find out. But also, rest.
Jesus also said, "Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest."
If you are sad, cry. If you are tired, sleep. If you are scared, hide. But when you are ready, when you are safe, love God and love others. It's all about filling and pouring. The Eucharistic life. Tending and being tended to. It's ok. You are not alone. While you are under your twenty-five pound blanket (I reeeeeeally want one of those, really, really, really), there is someone else who is walking the road tending to those they can reach. And when I falter, you will be ready to take my place.
There is so much to do. There is so much brokenness. There is so much hatred and hurt and fear, but there are also lots of hands. And, like my mama said, "Many hands make the work light."