Sunday’s Scripture ~ Ephesians 4:1-16.
My friend Dan Dixon has the keenest ability to send me cards that 100% describe how I am feeling at the present moment. My most recent installment looks like…
I think it should be titled, “Sarah Miller: This Moment In Time.”
The inside of the card reads, “Ever have one of those days?” And underneath those words Dan kindly wrote, “Yes, we do! Yes, we all have!”
How wonderful it is to be reminded that I am not alone in this life and that I have a great friend that will send me a picture of a soaked cat to lift my spirits.
In the card Dan thanked me for all the ways we stay connected as colleagues as well as friends. We share resources, we ask advice, we laugh, we vent, we sit in silence, we complain about all the things we should have been taught at Candler, and through talk, text, and/or email, we offer “towels” to one another on the days we are utterly soaked.
Dan has the incredible gift of speaking truth in love – “Sarah, you are doing a little too much right now.” “Sarah, listen to your committee members on this.” “Sarah, let that go.” “Sarah, forgive yourself.”
In her book Altar in the World Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self – to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.”*
Through the relationship we share, Dan and I are able to be brought out of ourselves – and most importantly, brought out of the stories that we tell ourselves that are not a true reflection of our actual selves – so we can love and nurture, so we can struggle with growth and grapple with fear, and so we can try on the rawness of vulnerability and realize that we can live with that rawness for just a few moments longer than we did the last time.
Barbara Brown Taylor observes that we are all born with “instinctive care” – that innate knowledge to do whatever we need to do to care for ourselves. To love the neighbor as the self requires that we apply that same sort of instinctive care to someone else, that we do whatever is needed to care for another. Barbara Brown Taylor says, “to become that person, even for a moment, is to understand what it means to die to your self. This can be as frightening as it is liberating. It may be the only real spiritual discipline there is.”*
When we apply instinctive care to one another in community we experience unity. We share our joys and sorrows in community. We do not walk alone; we walk with others. We share one another’s burdens and we work together to lighten those loads. We offer affirmation, we ask questions, we seek and share forgiveness. This is what it means to be in relationship with one another. This is at the core of our ministry to one another as believers – caring for one another, which leads us to caring for all, as Christ cares for us.
Is there someone in your life presently that relates to or resembles my above “moment in time?” How might you reach out to them, and in so doing, instinctively care for them as you would for yourself? Consider how your actions will draw the two of you closer together. And imagine what our world would be like if we all genuinely and diligently answered our calls to to this sort of care.
Prayer: “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.”** Amen.
*Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, 93.
**”Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” The United Methodist Hymnal 557.