“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway
I had an acquaintance who constantly accused his wife of being a liar and not worthy of his trust. He told all his friends and family as much, including their children. He used to grill her and find holes in her stories. He’d follow her to the grocery store, sure she was meeting another man. He’d even show up to her job unannounced to make sure she was at work when she told him she would be. He accused her of having an affair that resulted in the conception of their second son, even though the son was a spitting image of him. He never caught her doing anything, but always said she was an expert liar who covered up everything. You can probably guess that this troubled marriage ended unhappily. His mistrust became abuse when practiced his way.
My experience with this man was that he trusted almost no one. He was suspicious. He thought he knew more than everyone else. He’d say degrading things about people behind their backs. And if they were fragile enough, he’d insult them to their faces, knowing they didn’t have the wherewithal to fight back. But, he had the allure of a bright, charming, fun-loving man. He was the loudest voice at parties. He seemed buoyant and engaged. And you should see what he did on the dance floor … like dirty dancing on steroids!
A colleague described this man as a narcissist. I’m not a specialist in diagnosing pathologies, but it seems to me that he had some self-esteem issues, which caused him to put everyone else down so that he seemed to be a bigger and better man. His reality was sad. The man I knew was fearful, paranoid, and lonely.
He thought the world was out to “pull one over” on him, so that’s all he saw – hucksters, liars and cheats. I met some of those same people. I perceived them as honest, kind, and generous and I told him so. Somehow, he thought he was able to discern peoples’ motivations in a way that eluded the rest of the world. He told me that only 3% of the population scored the way he did on the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. When I heard that declaration, I thought to myself, “Thank God. We don’t need more than 3% of the population being so nasty!”
I tell you about this guy because I believe that we speak our world into being. If I say the church is filled with loving, faithful, and generous people, I’m more likely to see those characteristics than anything else. If I say the church is filled with uptight, controlling hypocrites, I’m going to see behaviors that fit my description, even if those behaviors are the exception rather than the rule, even if those behaviors don’t exist at all.
It’s my hope and prayer that, as people of God, we see others closer to God’s reality than this acquaintance of mine. I think God sees us with rose-colored glasses. Sure, God knows our growing edges and vulnerabilities, but like a loving parent, She has eyes of love that are smitten with us.
You might say that God made us in his own mysterious image — mysterious not like human riddles and conundrums, but in our capacity to energetically participate in the creative, existential mystery of whatever the world is up to with us. At the eye of the storm we can know peace, strength, and a faith that passes understanding, finding ourselves at home with true mystery.
"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." Mark 9:37
This has not been the vacation I had imagined. I had a great get away to Provincetown to start vacation. We’ve had fantastic weather. I’ve gotten out to swim, run or walk almost every day. I’ve started a new exercise routine and feel great. I’ve taken time to pray every day. I have a pile of books and articles that I am in the process of reading. And that’s the problem. My prayer life has disturbed my reading and my reading has disturbed my prayer life. They both have converged on the spate of undocumented, unaccompanied children migrating to the United States.
The US government’s policies have caused these problems . Both Democrat and Republican administrations have had a variety of roles so this is a bipartisan problem and needs bipartisan fixes. And yet Americans are furious. We are gathering on the border and in the heartland’s towns and cities to protest and keep immigrating children away. Politicians have gone off message during their election campaigns to speak to this issue … as if it were just a single issue. Good Christian friends of mine who readily rescue dogs and cats and who go abroad to do relief missions in Latin American countries are all but advocating for the children to die, which is exactly what is happening in their homelands of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
What has happened to the American spirit? Have we forgotten that we stole this land from Native Americans and then murdered them to secure it? Have we forgotten that most of us who are outside Indian reservations are children of immigrants or immigrants ourselves who likely came when immigrants from all over the world were welcomed with open arms? Where is the spirit of compassion? Where is the pride in our nation as a “Melting Pot?” Where has the foundation of our country gone when we forget the founder’s declaration that all people are created equal and have certain unalienable rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
Most troubling to me, and what has caused such a disruption in my Sabbath, is the immense sorrow I feel for my Christian brothers and sisters who tout a faith in an ever-gracious God who knows no borders and whose laws are based on compassion, mercy and love, and yet who cannot relate to the most vulnerable children in the Western Hemisphere. I am grief stricken for the children. I am grief stricken for our nation. I am grief stricken for our Christian faith which is no faith at all unless it lifts up those whom Jesus called “the least of these.”
I now return to my Sabbath to pray for our nation, for these precious homeless children, and for our God whose heart surely is breaking as the moral character of the faithful is laid bare and vulnerable.
Let us do what is right and inherent in the precepts of our faith and the founding principles of this great nation. Let us undo the wrongs that have occurred due to short-sighted foreign policies. Let us love as we are loved by Love itself.
Ah, but I love to draw beautiful words, like trumpets of light…I adore you, words who are sensitive to our sufferings, words in red and lemon yellow, words in the steel-blue colour of certain insects, words with the scent of vibrant skills, subtle words of fragrant roses and seaweed, prickly words of sky-blue wasps. words with powerful snouts, words of spotless ermine, words spat out by the sands of the sea, words greener than Cyrene fleece, discreet words whispered by fishes in the pink ears of shells, bitter words, tornado and storm-tossed words, being beaten, evil words, festive words, tornado and storm-tossed words, windy words, reedy words, the wise words of children, rainy, tearful words, words without rhyme or reason, I love you! I love you!