by Laurie Gudim
With fervid compulsiveness, like someone suffering from O.C.D., I have, over the past several days, immersed myself in all that is being shared online about the presidential election. But last night our aging modem gasped its last breath and died, and, lo and behold, I was left without access to the internet. I was forced, willy-nilly, to face the fact that I’d gotten a little carried away. This made me realize that I was never going to find whatever it was that I was looking for in news reports, Twitters and Facebook posts anyway. And what was I looking for?
The lesson from Luke’s Gospel for today places Jesus in the hostile environment of Jerusalem, where, as he teaches and heals, religious authorities are lying in wait to catch him saying something they can use against him to bring him down. His disciples are oblivious to the danger, and the crowd is so huge and needy that people are trampling on one another to get near enough to him that he can heal them. It’s a time of anxiety for sure. In the midst of this maelstrom he begins to talk to his disciples about hypocrisy and fear.
A lot that has been hidden is being shouted from the rooftops these days. Police brutality and other wrongs can now be captured by cell phone videos and widely shared. There is truth telling at all levels in this country, even in the presidential race. Our dark underbelly as a nation is being exposed. Racism and sexism are prevalent, we are moving into a new scapegoating of a major religious group, and we are deeply divided.
Jesus teaches truth telling. The death of Soul is far more devastating than the death of the body, he says. Then he goes on to tell his disciples that they must acknowledge him. Belonging to Christ is a very real, life-changing state of being, something not to be hidden away. We must speak our truth.
But even these very important ways of witnessing are not as vital as another: acknowledging the Holy Spirit. The consequence of failing to acknowledge the Holy Spirit is dire indeed.
As I read this passage I realized that the Holy Spirit is what I had been looking for in all the posts and Twitters I have been so avidly reading. I have been looking for hope. That bright and clarifying Breath, the wind of new beginnings built in truth, that stirring upheaval that catalyzes us into healing and wholesome change – I’ve been looking for her. I have been looking for the third person of the Trinity, thinking surely she dances through this election process like she does through all our other human activities.
In the silence of prayer I begin to see how she is indeed there and fomenting change. When things that have long been hidden are shouted from the rooftops, it is disillusioning and awful, but it brings us to a place of genuine humility. And humility is being open. From that place something new can be born. As has always been the case, when we give up on being able to do the right thing all by ourselves, we then realize that we need God.
When the election is over, we will have a great deal of healing to do. We will have to learn to reach out to one another out of a stance of deep listening. We cannot afford to write one another off.
May we lean into the wind of the Spirit and be guided, catalyzed today and in the days to come, as we undertake that salvific process. May we find those beginnings of hope and change we could never even imagine without the astounding and miraculous love of God.