Nor Be Overcome by Adversity

Spiritual Smart Aleck

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“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. – The Book of Common Prayer, page 137, In the Morning.

It has been a long time since I have specifically mentioned my Christian faith. I was aware from the beginning, eighteen years ago, that I was not preaching to the choir in this column. I determined early in my adult conversion that I would not apologize for being a Christian, nor would I push what I believe on anyone. What I believe is my business, what you believe is your business. Peace.

As we all know, some people are incapable of keeping their beliefs to themselves, and want everyone to believe exactly as they believe, and become extremely upset when that is not the case, and go on and on at tedious emotional lengths about what is wrong with what others believe and what is right with what they believe.

Atheists, I’m looking at you. We get it. There is no god. Give it a rest.

Christianity has made a terrible name for itself. No argument there. Other religions have not done well in the peace and love department.

Still, my faith has led me to believe in kindness to, and respect for, the other. Not that I don’t pop my cork. I do. I probably think to myself that someone is an adverb moron at least once a day.

I am a Christian, and a human being, which is why I came to the concept of being a spiritual smart aleck, a Christian with a potty mouth and a dark and sometimes sick sense of humor. I try to behave, but if anyone needs Jesus, it’s me.

It is hard to bring together two apparently impossible things, trying to be the presence of Christ in the world but instead being me in the world. I “practice my faith.” You build faith the same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. It is faith that sustains me in the hard times, faith and grace, which so often comes through the love of wonderful people.
That faith and those people have carried me the last few days, as our country has slaughtered people in Iran, and Iran has retaliated.

This exchange of hostilities is frightening to us because it means that we are being sucked into another endless war in the Middle East, and we don’t know yet what will be the scope of that war, and we don’t know what terrorist attacks will happen here.

In this war, in the ongoing never-ending war, it is us, our kids, our family members, who will die or be maimed or commit suicide.

Please keep in mind that some people in this world have been living with war in their countries forever. We’ve all seen pictures of people howling over their dead children.

Some of us in this country are already the people howling over their dead children.
We have casualties in these distant wars, and we do have people in this country who mow other people down as efficiently as they can, people with guns and knives, until they are stopped, or stop themselves.

Not to mention the violence of a country that splits up families and imprisons children and shows no sign of stopping or listening to people who protest this inhumanity.
These things bludgeon the heart and mind.

How do I take in the grief of knowing what is happening, and keep going on? How do I not “be overcome by adversity?”

There are many traditions that speak to these hard times, traditions of meditation, and prayer, of breathing and movement, traditions and practices that have been worked out and gone over by our ancestors for centuries and are now well-worn paths.

What I am doing now: I pray. I acknowledge the horrors. I fold them into my heart and soul, I take deep breaths, in and out, and get up, and go on, carrying what I know and feel. I embrace life and fold the beauty and love and joy and kindness of this world into myself along with the grief, and endeavor to do what I can to connect with you and remind you and me that we are all in this together.

Because we cannot mend the world if we allow ourselves to be defeated by the evil of the world.

We are all in this together. You, me, even Tom Brady, who I think is an adverb moron for saying God takes sides in football games.