“Though usually regarded as a result of trying to give too much, burnout…results from trying to give what I do not possess–the ultimate in giving too little. Burnout is the state of emptiness to be sure, but it does not result from giving all I have; it merely reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place”
–Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, 49
Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador asked, “A church that doesn’t provoke any crisis, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed–what gospel is that?”
Book of Common Prayer; A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Page 333.
Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, wrote, “Whatever I had read as a child about the saints had thrilled me. I could see the nobility of giving one’s life for the sick, the maimed, the leper. But there was another question in my mind. Why was so much done in remedying the evil instead of avoiding it in the first place? Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery?”
“Gratia non tollit naturam” said Thomas Aquinas: Grace does not abolish nature.
Salvation does not change human nature but allows us to accept our own failings and treat the failings of others with grace. We are not proud because we believe that we do not know and cannot see how we ourselves are driven by human nature toward serving our own good at the expense of others; we are instead humble, looking for opportunities to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others as repentance for the harm we have done, knowingly and unknowingly.
Grace liberates us to accept ourselves and others and thus to live courageous, honest, open lives–with no reason to pretend, in no position to judge.
Wake us to your presence, Lord: that we might not waste our times of trial.
Twentieth century mystical Simone Weil wrote, “Affliction compels us to recognize as real what we do not think possible.”
What would you teach us today in our trials, Lord? Make us receptive! Help us to see your victory and compassion rather than look for easy answers to our troubles. So make us expectant, Lord, and patient. Amen.
…The specific character of despair is precisely this: it is unaware of being despair.
–Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death
American farmer and poet Wendell Berry writes, “Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.”