I'm thinking I'm going to completely give up my life of prostitution.
Ok, so now that I have your attention...
I went to the Thursday morning School of Community even though I've officially switched to the Saturday group. I was up, uh earlyenoughtogetthere and my children love to go with me, so off we went. Really, I feel like my life is exploding again in the way it did when I first was venturing into the Catholic Church. So much to process on levels that are not intellectual. And therefore I was just dying to be with my SoC friends this morning.
We talked about lots of things associated with our current text, since that's what we do there. And I was struck by someone's comment about how we meet others, how we meet random people we meet throughout the day, like the checker in the grocery store. As I was meditating on the whole exchange this morning, with this comment as the centerpiece, I thought about this: What is it like to go through life without our person, without our "I" engaged, and without engaging others as true selves, children of God, without that personal dignity that so constitutes what a human being is? In a way, we either act as if we are, or as if others are, or as if we all are, prostitutes. Do not we humans live so often as if the bottom line is self-preservation, which absolutely no one but ourselves is concerned for. Since all we have is ourselves, we have to use "it" as our currency, to exchange for whatever scraps we can get towards our goal of self-preservation. Other people are soulless things which we use for our purposes, for our goal of self-preservation. There is no joy in this kind of life, only maybe some relief when it seems for a moment that we have enough to breathe for awhile.
Right? How often is the checker in the grocery store just the thing which is responsible for letting me get my groceries paid for? Is there a huge difference when we use a self-checkout machine?
Now, I must say that I normally do have human consideration for the random stranger, or at least I have come to have more consideration in the last years. But I do frequently meet random strangers in settings like the grocery story whose actions betray that they are used to being treated as nothing more than objects for the use of others. I've intuited it, but I've not had the words to think about this intuition in these terms before.
This kind of "thing-life" is such a far cry from what Jesus offers us in the gospel, and what the heart cries out for. I am imagining that Jesus might have felt relieved talking with the prostitutes of his day, because at least they were in touch with what their life consisted of. I imagine it was the folks who used others and submitted to use by others, probably especially in the name of religion, that really gave Him the biggest cause to sigh. Or weep.
"Your Heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask!" We do not make ourselves, and God our Father cares deeply about all the minute facets of our lives, down to numbering our hairs. How could we forget that He cares for us this way? Maybe better yet, how can we know it? As Charlie Peacock says, we can only possess what we experience. We need those who have experienced the love of Christ to love us that way. (Thank you Fr. Giussani, naru hodo.)
Years ago I thought it was lame to say our mission as Christians was to love. I took that to mean a sort of "being nice," which in fact we discussed today as completely not the point of Christianity. Love is so different. Love acknowledges a person. Not a doer of services, not a giver of pleasure, but a person. A person created by God for relationship with the Infinite. In this way it seems the Good News is not hard to share, but indeed one of the hardest things for some people to believe is that they have this kind of value, this kind of meaning.