Willie Nelson wrote a song called Too Sick to Pray that describes how a lot of my friends are feeling right now. Depression, anxiety, injuries and illness, addiction, jobs and bosses, families or the lack of them, are difficult. When you can’t even walk on the sidewalks because they are so icy and the winter storms keep coming, life can feel even harder. My friends are wise enough to know there is a spiritual element to our struggle, too. The living God is inviting us to make a vital connection, and sometimes we can’t get there.
My cell group discovered a secret again last week: that the gravity of God’s love can hold us together beyond our individual abilities to stay in any particular orbit. We imagined floating in outer space, individually feeling at times like we’re drifting off into darkness and nothingness, and then realizing that we’re actually in a path with others, gently and invisibly held in orbit around the sustaining light of Christ. We talked openly about our struggles then, and imagined how we could even imitate God in the midst of the darkness. Here are three ideas:
1. Acknowledge entropy. The world is adept at entropy: the gradual decline into disorder, deterioration, degeneration, degradation, decomposition, & collapse. I’m not going for the full thermodynamic definition here, but a lot of good relationships and ideas and projects and organizations and governments end up this way: in decline and separation. Lent is a good time to notice the fear and laziness that makes us entropy-prone.
2. Be carried by the faith of others when you can’t see your own. When it’s healthy, the body of Christ works a lot like a healthy physical body. When one part is sick, the other parts carry it and help bring it to healing. We bear one another’s burdens. We suffer together and become whole. Just showing up to a meeting can help us sense the safety and encouragement of the body we are a part of, even when we are disconnected. We get gently surrounded by the love of God and reminded of who we really are: beloved of God and significant to others.
3. Keep talking. One of our convictions as a Circle of Hope is that dialogue keeps us connected and protects our gravity. Verbalizing our struggles brings them into the light. Opening up gives us a chance to know and support one another. This is how we grow and expand. Communication in love creates gravity and mutuality that can overcome entropy.
In Christ, we get into an orbit that holds things together in love. We get into something lasting, and become the presence of the future. The power of the Spirit is greater than the powers of entropy. Together we generate gravity that is strong enough to include our sin-sick selves, and others. Even in our struggle we can reflect the love of God and shine.