to love unto the end

To bear the times pressing upon us, our children need a larger hope. They need a larger, more gracious vision than a veiled set of instructions for skirting the vortex of death by shoving others in. To keep their hearts open in the rising tide, their imaginations need a bigger boat. Rational self-interest isn’t going to get them across the troubled waters ahead. The odds against them are stacked too high. The hope they need is not rational. To have real, embodied hope, to resist the unmaking of the earth and its goodness, will require of them not acts of reason, but of acts of faith.

We have no right to ask our kids to make the hard sacrifices necessary for a viable future when we have been so busily sacrificing that future for our present. We cannot make them proposals of calculated benefit, suggesting that they fight for social justice and environmental protections because otherwise the economy will fail and leave them bereft. This makes no sense to them, because they can see that the economy is already failing and will likely leave them bereft regardless. There remains no reasonable cause for the self-sacrifice and courage that a livable future asks of them. Their choices are apocalyptic: to fight unto the end, or to love unto the end.

[Apologies to Canadians that the link is for Amazon US but Friesen Press doesn’t seem to have their relationship to Amazon Canada streamlined. Canadians might be better off trying Commonword.]

waiting for a funny old uncle this advent

[Thanks to Agnes Kramer-Hamstra for digging out this quote for Advent:]

What we are watching for is a party, and that party is not just down the street making up its mind when to come to us; it’s already hiding in our basement, banging on our steam pipes, and laughing its way up our cellar stairs. The unknown day or hour of its finally bursting into the kitchen and roistering its way through the whole house is not dreadful, it is all part of the divine lark of grace. God is not our mother-in-law coming to check and see if her wedding-present china has been chipped; He is a funny Old Uncle with a salami under one arm and a bottle of wine under the other. We do indeed need to watch for Him, but only because it would be such a pity to miss all the fun.

  • Robert Farrar Capon, The Parables of Judgement

the air in which you breathe

[We’ve recently been inspired by Martin Buber’s classic on relating to others in fully human, not objectifying, ways. Here is a line that stuck with me:]

Spirit is not in the I but between I and You. It is not like the blood that circulates in you but like the air in which you breathe. Man lives in the spirit when he is able to respond to his You. He is able to do that when he enters into this relation with his whole being. It is solely by virtue of his power to relate that man is able to live in the spirit.

― Martin Buber, I and Thou

not worthy of human considerations

As a person of First Nations ancestry I cannot help but wonder if the failure of Caucasian Americans and Canadians to reveal and teach about the horrors their ancestors carried out against North American First Nations Peoples during and after colonial times is a deliberate cover-up or an indication that they hold within their minds a notion that the life of a First Nations person is valueless – not worthy of human considerations. The latter is probably the more plausible, because it is an unchallengeable fact that the crimes against humanity that were committed against our Peoples over the centuries by people of European descent are not viewed with the same abhorrence by Caucasians that such crimes against other races of people are viewed. If such were the case there would be unconditional condemnation of it, and the knowledge would be readily available and taught in schools.

  • Daniel N. Paul, We Were Not the Savages: Collision between European and Native American Civilizations (2006)

(These sobering words are a reminder of the changes that we are needing and wanting to make in terms of education. They come from a well-documented history of the treatment of the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples in the Maritimes by European colonizers. This work, along with many others, is part of our library’s new Indigenous Studies Collection, which was in turn part of our Education for Reconciliation project made possible by a grant from Stronger Together.)

being useless and silent

We need quiet time in the presence of God. Although we want to make all our time time for God, we will never succeed if we do not reserve a minute, an hour, a morning, a day, a week, a month, or whatever period of time, for God and God alone.

This asks for much discipline and risk taking because we always seem to have something more urgent to do and “just sitting there” and “doing nothing” often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of our God belongs to the core of all prayer.

In the beginning we often hear our own unruly inner noises more loudly than God’s voice. This is at times very hard to tolerate. But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness of ourselves and God.

Then, very soon, we start missing these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, Reaching Out