Ingrate. Everything I have is given by someone else. Everything I have is borrowed. Everything I have belongs to God. There is this simple truth in my life that I stumble over sometimes and end up in tears of gratitude.
I am an ingrate. I am ungrateful most of the time, not because I think I earned anything or have some great accomplishments, but because I just don’t pay attention enough.
My life is carried by others. I can’t weave sheets or make a shirt or build a road. I don’t even keep my own calendar. I am so deeply connected to all these amazing human beings who do these incredible things. Could I do any of them? Yes, maybe. But could I do them and still do what I do well? Not a chance.
My life is this wondrous dance with a few million people, most of whom are invisible to me. We live in webs of relationship.
Even the sparrow is not removed from me. Her health is mine. She makes her home beside the altar because she is as much a part of the will and love of God as I am.
I carry around this truth in my pocket and run my hands over it sometimes in wonder. I was watching the workmen on Front cutting the asphalt for another dig into the underbelly of our small metropolis, and awe overtook me. These sons of God, these bored and distracted fathers and brothers were waking up and focussing to do something that makes me marvel.
These men were taking care of the rest of us with their care around power and gas, water and road. They were priests to the mysteries that lie under our feet.
What of the dental assistant or the nurse, the veterinarian, the police officer, the woman in labor? The world is full of the children of God working together at this wondrous creation. We bend like fields of wheat under the wind of God. We bow to one another in acts so small as to escape notice, but in the whole we make the world.
The righteous choose to walk awake into fields of harvest with gratitude, to honor the world by choosing to bless rather than curse, to attend to our holy work, whatever it is, bowing to God in simple acts of love at the shovel or the pick, the needle or the push of the body against the infant.
We are creators like our abba Creator choosing to build up or destroy. Oh, my brothers and sisters, we have to choose. We have to wake up to the ties that hold us, or we will strangle the weaker among us, we will suffocate the helpless, we will struggle against the web or go slack, and both increase the work of those around us.
Care of life, care of the little interactions, moving with grace among the creation, this makes us human. We can begin in such small ways, like the men at the corner waking up to attention, doing their job with care and focus. Going the extra mile comes easy when we choose the first one as an act of humanity rather than slavery.
We begin with the choice. Paul addresses slaves and urges them to choose their life, which we have used and misused as owners of slaves. But if we read this as the slaves, we are addressed as human beings. We choose, and so we take on our dominion of the first corner of creation given into our care, our selves. We choose and then the owner becomes a partner in life, and the hierarchy we both hold and resent disappears.
It becomes a prop for an old play left over after the crowd leaves. A relic is all that remains of the old world and its acting. The reality of the Rule has come and left the old play abandoned for the farce it was. We are not slaves or owners, we are human beings bowing to each other.
Wake up, O leaders and servants, we all wash each others feet as we live well into our lives, and our feet are washed by our savior in so many different colored hands. The Rule of God has come, and God is the only one to stand above as the first Creator, the ongoing Weaver who runs the loom of creation through our lives like a breath over our fields of harvest, and we bow or break.
Your life and mine are one. The Spirit, that breath of God, makes us one as we awake to the real world of life and salvation, to our heritage as Creator’s children, Jesus followers, healers and forgiveness bearers. The world waits for us to realize that the men at the corner are our brothers, the world is in our care, and we are bound to love.