|Footprints on Lake Superior|
|Houghton, MI in the UP|
- The sun rose
- I fell down a lot
- Men's beards grew icicles
- A woman's perfectly dry hair managed, somehow, to freeze
- We discovered the complex and not altogether favorable taste of banana-flavored hot cocoa mix
- Someone found a pressure crack and fell through the ice
- Yes, he FELL THROUGH THE ICE
|James Bond: Skyfall|
Scurrying back to the cars to get dry clothes on our friend-cicle, I reflected on the importance of community. I don't care how worn-out it sounds; it really does "take a village" to raise a child, to become a full human person. My new UP community took to heart 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "encourage one another and build one another up." Even in small ways, they welcomed me, challenged me, and expanded my horizon (literally--do you see how infinite that skyline seems?).
Sometimes I want to be an "efficiency expert," like Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in Cheaper By the Dozen. I want to eliminate all superfluity and distraction. I want everything to work correctly, right now. But the beautiful messiness of living in community reveals the recklessness of pure efficiency. Watching the sunrise is not terribly useful, but it expands the heart. Shutting off the computer to spend time reading with a little child might not clear out the email inbox, but it strengthens a relationship. Choosing to interact with a socially awkward person at a gathering might be bad news for social ambition, but it teaches empathy.
Jesus had it within his power to be ruthlessly efficient. One man even chided Jesus about that: “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us” (Luke 23:39). Jesus could have saved himself and us with a mighty display of divine power. Instead, he hung out for three years with a motley group of locals. He went from town to town, working miracles where he could, talking to individuals and to groups. Jesus, through whom all things come into being, relied largely on the companionship of twelve guys to get his message out. The day he died, just one of the twelve remained at the cross. Oh, and his mom--his mom was there too. As for the others, "all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events" (Luke 23:49). Jesus' death gave birth to the Church, with two people in the pews. After the Resurrection, Jesus found his fearful friends locked in a room. Nevertheless, he entrusted his Church to them.
Jesus shows us a model not of efficiency, but of community, marked by freedom and love. St. Claude La Colombière, whose February 15th feast day fell on this past Saturday (my snowshoe day), was filled with love of Jesus. He found himself wanting to tell everyone about the Heart of Jesus, and felt frustrated that most of his conversations were just private one-on-one interactions. "Why can't I be everywhere, dear God, and make it known that you are waiting for your servants and friends!" But we can't be everywhere. We can only be in the place God puts us each moment.
Jesus did walk on (non-frozen) water, and he did speak to teeming crowds at times, but he started his Church quietly, on a shockingly small scale, affirming the beauty of small, daily interactions with others. Sometimes I want grand and glorious displays of power that compel the world to believe in the saving power of Jesus. But then I pay attention to Jesus, and I hear him invite us to intimacy and freedom: "Come and see."
Let's go together.