I’m not one to dive into the world of politics but lately it has been hard not to get sucked into the whirling vortex. It’s not so much the candidates, although a few of them do leave much to be desired, but more of the rhetoric. Some politicians, who were thought to be intelligent and wise, have gone on to social media blasting away using 140 characters. Not one of our post-modern politicians would ever match the debate skills that highlighted the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the mid-1800’s. Then again, we, the people of this country, have such a short attention span. We can’t even sit through a full one minute commercial on television, never mind an hours long debate that is thoughtful and productive. What we see today is a product of our own making, a Barnum and Bailey side show where the loudest and most audacious voices get the most attention. Unfortunately, it’s too late to turn back the clocks. We cannot return to those bygone days but that does not mean that we have to eat the slop being presented. Way too much of our information is tainted with less than accurate data or taking comments out of context. Even the most trusted of journalists will twist the truth to match their own political agenda. Most of all, we have forgotten that this is a Republic, and being so requires us to be an intelligent and informed electorate, to separate the chaff from the straw. Of course, that’s not easy. It would mean that we would need to engage with the politics in a thoughtful and meaningful way. We would need to hold each politician accountable, for what they say and what they do.
However, first and foremost, we need to look deep within ourselves and be accountable as well. As a priest I continue hearing that if schools would only bring back prayer, or if we could once again place the Ten Commandments on the town square, then all would be good again. If only it were that simple. We, as Christians, are called to engage on a deeper level with our neighbors and in our spiritual lives. Too often I hear that people are busy, running around from place to place. Some are so scattered that they forget what day it is as one appointment or event runs into another. Lives resemble a Jackson Pollack painting, all over the place with little or no structure. We are all caught in a web of busyness that we cannot seem to break free from and it is fracturing our lives. Just restoring prayer in school or putting up monuments to the Ten Commandments, is not the answer. Slowing down, shutting off the noise, and taking a moment to just breathe in the Spirit of life, will go a long way to helping us restore some balance.
As I approach the one year anniversary of my accident, I have become aware of my own need for sabbath and quiet. In what I do now, in my writing, has become an important part of my life. In these brief missives I try to deepen my own understanding of myself and my relationships. My prose may not be the best, my poetry might need much work, but in what I write I find a certain peace. For me grace has been like the opening of a flower in the early morning. The petals slowly reaching out to embrace the warm sunlight as the new day begins. The intentionality of just being present, of not trying to push the process but instead allowing it to gently feed my soul. I’m not totally divorced from all of the rhetoric, I cannot isolate or even construct any psychological walls, but I can take a moment to inhale God’s breath of life that opens my heart.