Good morning everyone,
I am always interested in cultural phenomena (yes I used spell-check on that one). Well let me go back a number of years when a new show came on Television, it was called Dancing with the Stars. Now for the life of me I could not imagine that this show would ever survive let alone become the cultural icon that it has become. Because I was always away from the T.V. all I had to imagine from was the title so in my mind out would come this parade of old stars dancing. I could not fathom that this was a competition or that anyone would be interested, but of course I was completely wrong. Yes I will admit that I too have watched a few episodes though not a single one all the way through, it still doesn’t do much for me.
I also have to say that Jodi enjoys it a lot, I think that this may be because down deep she wants to be a dancer or at least go dancing once in a while. It is funny many years ago when we were younger and country line dancing was the rage, Jodi and I with another couple took some lessons in Marshalltown and then went dancing on Saturday nights quite often, but that all went by the wayside sometime and I really don’t know when or why.
Well that really isn’t quite true I think I know why and I am responsible; this may sound a little strange but I am quite self-conscious and I am pretty sure everyone on the dance floor and in the surrounding area was looking at me and thinking, “That is what he calls dancing, pretty strange moves.” So with this in mind I kind of just decided that I didn’t want to go anymore so poor Jodi’s dancing days ended there as well.
Isn’t it strange how our mental image of ourselves changes our behavior, when we think we look good doing something then we continue to do it even if we are doing it wrong, and the opposite is true, when we think everyone is looking and thinking that we look silly of foolish we stop even if no one is looking or thinking that! Somewhere buried deep in our psyche is this desire not to look silly or to stand out for negative reasons. As I think about it is not only with dancing for me, I was the same way with my grades, papers that I wrote, clothes I wore, what I did and said. I just wanted to blend into the crowd so that no one would see me as different or strange. I am pretty sure that this is a defense mechanism, protecting ourselves from self-perceived and self constructed criticism. I can only imagine the opportunities to have fun, to dance with Jodi, to share in something new and exciting that I have missed because of what I thought others might think. This is truly sad on my part.
I would like to say that as I age I have gotten better but the truth is I think I have gotten worse.
I think this same principle is often true of or spiritual lives as well, we hide behind the one line of scripture that tells us to pray in solitude to define our whole life of ministry. That line is in contrast to the bombastic (I have always wanted to use the word bombastic in a sermon or writing) religious folks who put on a show for self glorification, and not to be a model of how to live a spiritual and called life.
To serve others with a generous heart and a humble attitude is often ridiculed in the modern world and pious and self-righteous but if it is done with love for those we are serving then let them talk. Unfortunately we too often settle for the safe and the accepted instead of going out on a limb for Jesus and our neighbor just so others will not look strangely at us. I wish I were saying this more clearly but let me quote from Joan Chittister in her book “The Rule of Benedict” to say it a little more clearly.
The spiritual life is not a collection of asceticism; it is a way of being in the world that is open to Go and open to others…It is so easy to tell ourselves that we overlooked the needs of others because we were attending the needs of God. It is so easy to go to church instead of going to a friend whose depression depresses us. It is so easy to want silence rather than the demands of children. It is much easier to read a book about religion than it is to listen to a husband talk about his job or a wife talk about her loneliness. It is so much easier to practice the privatized religion of prayer and penances that it is to make fools out of ourselves for the Christian religion of globalism and peace. Deep, deep spiritual traditions everywhere, however, rejected those rationalizations: “Is there life after death?” a disciple once asked a Holy One. And the Holy One answered, “The great spiritual question of life is not ‘is there life after death?’ The great spiritual question is, ‘ Is there life before death?’
Lord, may I have live life before death in a way that brings glory to you and if I be a fool let me be a fool for you. Amen.
Grace and Peace