Luke 12:22-34 . A companion piece to August 4 blog.
Do not worry? Do not be anxious.
Does anyone here not worry? We all worry. Of course!
I sometimes wonder if Jesus inhabits the same kind of world as we do. He doesn’t seem to have young family or older family to look after. He doesn’t have rent or mortgage or car payments. He and his friends don’t have to worry what they will eat- someone always seems to feed them. He’s not concerned about providing for his old age- he seems to know he’s not going to have one. And in his time, no one worries about climate change.
And yet Jesus knows stuff can happen at any moment. Life is precarious. His world is one of small farmers one harvest failure, one rent payment away from losing their land- fisher folk one storm or shipwreck away from catastrophe- day labourers who could easily become beggars tomorrow if they could no longer work or if there were no jobs. In that world, life was short for most, and sudden illnesses could make it even shorter. Women could become widows, children could become orphans, many babies and children wouldn’t live till adulthood. And they’re living in a violent regime, where saying or doing the wrong thing could prove fatalAs Jesus knows full well, even if his friends do not want to know.
He’s teaching ancient, indeed timeless wisdom. Wisdom perhaps best understood by those in like circumstances today.
There’s reason to worry. Of course. But worry won’t make any of this one bit better.
What does help? Well, somehow trusting in Divine Presence, starting with pondering the marvels of creation: the lilies, or it could be any wildflower, that grows along the path we walk; the ravens, or it could be bluebirds or cardinals or hummingbirds- all partaking in the abundance of the earth, all wonders, all mysteries , no matter how much we understand the science. And we could add , animals of all kinds, including our cats and dogs and horses and cattle beasts.
One common feature in all living beings other than ourselves. Birds and animals react to what they see and hear and smell in real time. They don’t ask about tomorrow. And they don’t lose sleep wondering about their life expectancy. They are attuned and present to the here and now.
It is not always so with us. Sometimes, even often, we live in the past or the future more than the present. We could learn a thing or two from other living beings, about blooming now where we are planted, about receiving the nourishment available today, about looking and listening and being in these very moments we now live.
I am not saying don’t think ahead, and don’t plan- of course we have to. It’s about lightening unnecessary burdens and anxieties. It’s about clearing away what distracts and confuses us. so that we can live our best selves with heart and soul, responding to what calls us now.
You can see this if you watch sports. Tennis players or ball players have to play point by point. They can absorb learning from the point or the pitch they just missed. But then they have to let it go, and they can’t get thinking about the rest of the match or the rest of the season. They have to be totally present to the next point or pitch or they’ll miss it too.
And if you are a singer or musician you can’t worry about the note you just got wrong or what you might get wrong in another few minutes. You need all your breath and all your body and all your mind to sing and play right now.
If anyone is trying to figure out their future, I’d say to them. We don’t know the future. We make plans based on what we know now but we have to sit loose to all our plans-they might have to change any moment.
Our best wisdom is to show up for today, as it is and as it may become. We may need to be open to it being a very different day from what we expect.
Our world gives us a very different narrative: Try your hardest to get today and tomorrow under your control, go for as much security as you can, and above all make sure you can look after yourself. You can – at least you should – make it on your own. Or at least as a family you can make it on their own.
But Jesus reminds us. We are not self-sufficient. We don’t have everything under control. We never will. And we don’t know about tomorrow- we don’t always even know about today. And we can’t figure it all out.
We are vulnerable beings, mortal beings. And we are dependent on the whole web of life itself, as scientists tell us today, down to the plankton, to the submicroscopic species, the elements themselves.
And we are here only because of what we have received from other human beings, ones we know and ones we don’t know – some of whom we remember as we sit in this sanctuary.
If you doubt how much you depend on others, next time you sit down to your daily bread, your food, think about where everything on your table comes from, including the table itself, and the house in which the table sits. How very gifted we are!
The fear of getting old can be- what if we have to depend on others, other people have to look after us. But the gift may be whoever does look after us, be it family or caregivers or our health system. It’s a learning curve, but I’ve watched people receive such gifts with grace and gratitude, and I hope to do that myself if and when I need to.
And as we get that we are receiving gifts, all the time, we get that we are not alone, Divine Presence is working through all that helps us make it through today, and tomorrow.
Life is not easy- there’s struggle and heartache in plenty. But through all of it, we are held in love,
And we are citizens, along with the birds and flowers, of something bigger than us, stronger than us, more enduring than us- the realm of the Divine, the Creator, the Mystery use what words you will.
And once we get that, we can relax our anxiety, we can release our hold on what we cannot control, what we cannot keep , much less hoard. We can sit loose both to possessions and to plans,
And we can freely give our time, our talent, our treasure, because we know not everyone in this world gets what they need, without some help. The Holy One must reach them through human deeds of kindness and works of justice. And we know that many do suffer great affliction and adversity. Divine Consolation must embrace them through our Love and Light.
If we taste and see the goodness of today, then we are called not just to keep blessing for ourselves, but to give of ourselves, that others may also taste and see goodness today, even if today is hard- so that tomorrow may be as good as possible for as many as possible, even if we don’t know if we’ll even be here tomorrow.
That’s how we cultivate treasures of the heart, treasures which will outlast our brief time. That’s how we seek the divine realm of love and compassion and abundance. Indeed , we scarcely need to seek it. It’s our home. It always has been. It always will be.
It’s a “different country” as the poet Anne Porter says. It may seem strange to us at times. But for us it holds the word, the wisdom we need.
Yes, you will worry again, and so will I. But remember who you are, remember your true home, and treasure the beauty of each day as citizens of the divine realm, as you share this beauty in your giving, and your living. Amen.