Yesterday, I gathered with a group of beautiful people to create vision boards for 2020. One of the participants is a life coach and she explained that she begins with the end in mind. She asks, “What do you want to have accomplished by the end of the year?” Once you have that in mind, then work backwards to chart your course for the year.
The entire month of December, I have been praying, meditating, reading, researching, and contemplating what my message is for our country in 2020. Brain McLaren’s advice in this piece written to pastors like me gave me the push I needed to step out and begin writing my blogs in 2020 with the end in mind. You can find his writing here:
As Buffalo Bills’ Lorenzo Alexander’s daughter, Zoie, sang the National Anthem in December, I felt a stirring in my spirit and not just because this beautiful young girl sang for her daddy and not just because of the tears running down my face as I saw her face light up as she ended with “and the Home of the Brave,” but because I felt like I was hearing these words for the first time. “The Home of the Brave.” Let that sink in for a moment.
Later, I walked around the Houston Zoo area and I noticed the Pioneer Memorial and the monuments of Martin Luther, Gandhi, and Confucius in McGovern Centennial Gardens that celebrate people who stood for courage, determination, peace making, love, nonviolence, resistance to injustice, and creativity.
And then we have to ask the question…Are we the Home of the Brave? We sing the words. We feel pride in these words. We cheer loudly for these words. But would we say that we embody these words today?
Like the Hebrew Bible’s prophets, I would suggest that our wealth and privilege have made us too comfortable to be brave. In fact, most of us are so comfortable that we fear what it might mean for us to bravely face our challenges. Interested in prophets? Read this article here:
I felt a deep desire that we embody more of the qualities that would once again define us as The Home of the Brave. We sometimes express these words as pride for our military strength. We sometimes express these words for businesses that think outside of the box and score financial abundance. Sometimes, we express these words when people stand up for what we know in our heart is right. Most of the time, brave people are right in front of our eyes, but we don’t even know it because they don’t make it in the spotlight or they annoy us with their honesty or their presence touches a wound deep within us or we fear the unchartered territory they are blazing.
From my point of view, we are at a point in history where turning away from our challenges would cause more suffering than the suffering we might feel by facing our greatest fears. Just look at our plant. She is suffering and the symptoms of her suffering affect all living beings. Look at the health of human beings in America, at who has access to healthy food options and who does not, and at our dependency on pharmaceuticals. Look at hate crimes, terrorism, poverty, and the abuse of power in church and in the yoga studio (2 places that I love and should feel safe). Look at the inability of the democrats or republicans to hear the other person, honor valid points, and work together for the Common Good. I hope this paragraph has inspired some google searches…
My teacher, Jesus, did not avoid suffering, but entered into the suffering to stand in solidarity with all who suffer. If you are a Christ follower, this is your path. If you are not a Christ follower, we need you to share with us what your religious tradition says about suffering and offer ways that we can partner with you in relieving suffering. This is a unique time in history where people from many faiths traditions must partner together to make a global impact. Together we can begin to live into the words we sing, “and the Home of the Brave!”
May it be so.
Join me in 2020 as I write about
- Crossing over into other faith traditions, then coming back into my own
- Partnering with leaders in other faith traditions to learn new spiritual practices
- A focus on St. Benedict’s Way of Love and how practicing Radical Hospitality is a courageous act.