My Anabaptist ancestors spoke about being in the world, but not of it. My love of the writings of the mystics and of Sufi thought has caused me to tend to tend to reject that notion. I am in this world, this body, to experience the world, to know matter intimartely. The idea has so often been interpreted as a call to a matter-denying asceticism. Yet, while at least some of those early Anabaptists seem to have been interested in living ascetically, they were also living in a time when the city-states and political structures of their day demanded their spiritual as well as their political allegiance. Their choice to focus on not being of this world was a rejection of the force of empire.
Today, we are also living within structures that, while they claim to offer freedom of spirit and idea, have a tendency to demand allegiance, an empire of consumerism and militarism. We may not always see the victims of this empire, but they’re there. This empire in which I live is responsible for so much that goes against Good News: forced labor and child labor making cheap things for us to buy; rampant exploitation of the planet’s resources; demand for precious metals and minerals that cause conflict and wars in other parts of the world; sales of arms to and support of militaries that harm their own people; bombing of innocent civilians in an attempt to kill our “enemies”; bowing to the god of Might and Force.
How can we live in this empire and not experience some of the numbing effects of its daily fare? And how can we live in this empire, and yet not be of it?
1. Jim’s wake-up words: You are what you eat. If you eat the food of the empire, you take on the characteristics of the empire. I am not grateful for this truth, living within the belly of the empire as I do, but I am grateful for the reminder to live with that awareness.
2. The cycle of life. The young ones keep rising to take their place.
3. Water. I take it for granted all too often. I flick the dial on the dishwasher, turn on the tap, adjust the knobs on the shower, fill my coffee pot. Not everyone has access to clean water. For some, the filling of the water-need is arduous and treacherous. May the waters run free and clear for all.
4. All the things that DO get done. I get to feeling a little ragged about all the things that don’t get done, but in the meantime so many things do get accomplished.
5. Snow geese. They haven’t stopped in the Wrightsville/Columbia fields this year (at least not that I have seen). It was a joy to see them in the fields near Campbelltown yesterday afternoon.
May we walk in Beauty!