My window to the world overlooks a green plank fence and an overgrown patch of shrubs. There’s an ocean just a long block away but I can’t see it unless I stand tippy toe. A brood of barn swallows, just new to wing, flit to the fence, dive the half grown sunflowers, and avoid the house cat better than their downed siblings. Perspective, whether stilled, or stirring, is such a rare thing to share, but as a writer it is the most I can hope for. To be a good writer it helpful to become an avid reader. Earlier today I read a blog, filled with admonishments, and it felt as if the plank in my eye was not removed but merely converted to splinters. “As a Christian” is often used to frame such arguments, but to me it seemed the behavior suggested was just ordinary courtesy.
The light in the darkness that would reveal us believers as followers of the Christ must by definition be supernatural. It must be such a moving in our hearts as to be surprising, even delightful in its magnitude. Being in the world, but not of it, does not excuse us from having an impact, an influence on the lives of those around us. St. Francis prayed to be an instrument of the Lord’s Peace. He also aspired to preach the Gospel of Jesus wherever he went, but only when necessary to speak. Our actions do speak louder, the miracle is to let them, without clamoring for attention, or espousing attribution.
If we shrink from making this world a better place for the despairing and downtrodden we shirk the responsibility of on earth as it is in heaven. A cup of water to the least of these is a pretty low bar, but a very high calling, yet an agnostic can be as equally generous as any of us. What is ours to bestow, as Christians, is not exceptional behavior but explanatory belief. The love we are to be known for is not of our own design. The cliché that God has a plan for our lives is not nearly as comforting, or as powerful as God has a presence in it. The result of our charities is not just a clean bed, with blankets and a toothbrush, for the night, or a safe ride down the bumpy road, it is an introduction to Love being the central operating Principal of our lives in common.
Fortunately, the Holy Sprit intervenes in our behalf. We don’t have to become experts in compassion. Like the new birds of the air we learn to trust the wind to carry us. We spread our wings as we might spread our smiles, prepared to be accountable, in season and out, for the joy that is both in us, and set before us. Folks that know me could easily define me as a passive-aggressive type prone to fits of rage, but to Him that knows me best I am His beloved because I recognize Him in others, and who doesn’t love to be recognized.