Pastor’s Corner (2/4/2021)
“If you have ever felt yourself aging and losing both the health and tautness of a young body and the opportunities that come with that and been powerless to turn back the clock. If you have ever felt the world slipping away from you as you grow older and ever more marginalized. Then you have felt how God feels in this world“
As I draw to the end of Ronald Rolheiser’s book The Holy Longing I was struck by his reflections entitled “A Spirituality of Justice and Peace-Making.” In this section he explored the ways in which God’s power is experienced in our world. So often we think God’s power is revealed in the physically strong, the beautiful and fit, the articulate and well-spoken. Rolheiser points out that “…muscle, swiftness, beauty, brilliance and grace reflect God’s glory, but, they are not the primary ways in which God shows power in this world.”
As we move closer to Lent, we are also reminded that God’s power was also uniquely experienced by Jesus on Good Friday. “God never overpowers. God’s power in this world is never the power of a muscle, a speed, a physical attractiveness, a brilliance or a grace which, as the contemporary expression has it, ‘it blows you away and makes you shout yes, yes there is a God.’” He went on to say “God’s power though is more muted, more helpless, more shamed and more marginalized. But, it lies at a deeper level, at the ultimate base of things and will, in the end, gently have the final say.”
While his comments were part of his reflections about the God that undergirds real social justice, his words struck me in a different way.
As I read the quote at the top of this page, my thoughts went to a different situation in my life. I suppose, in a way, it is an issue of justice and peace-making, one that hits close to home. As many of you know, I have been helping a friend and colleague as he ages and struggles with dementia. He has no family and so I have come to be that for him. Since my return to the US in 2016 I have watched his health continue to decline. He has also had to deal with dementia which has worsened during the isolation of COVID-19. I have watched him age more rapidly than his years would normally dictate. Recently I had to move him from his assisted living apartment to a care center. While it was necessary, I found the process very painful. Yes, it was a lot of work and it had to be done quickly. But, it was also emotionally painful for him and for me. A lot of memories from the last months of my mother’s life flooded back on me. My heart ached for him and where life had taken him. Once a man of significant intellect and an articulate preacher, his world had become one room in a care center. While I know that he will now get the care he needs, the whole thing has weighed heavy on my mind and heart.
As I read the above words from Rolheiser, I began to sense that God was now with him, and me, in a new and different way. I suspect this change may leave us feeling “God forsaken.” I had a sense that God was with him especially now. As I read these words a prayer came into my heart, I prayed that the God of the aged and forsaken would be experienced by my friend. I had a sense that God was with me too, in a new and different way. Not in youth, or health, or intellect, but in the aging body and mind of a friend. I prayed that’s God’s love would surround him and comfort him in this painful time of change.
As we close in on a year dealing with COVID-19 and all the cries for justice that surround us still, may we also experience the power of God that is often experienced on the Good Fridays of our own lives. May the deeper presence of God remind us that, in the end, God does have the final word. God is with us, even and especially, in the midst of our Good Fridays and ultimately leads us to the power of the resurrection.
In peace and love,