Jesus knew beforehand of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal, expected it, even waited for it, yet he still washes the man’s feet. Washing of feet was an act of servitude provided as an example to us of acceptance, of humility, of love, of forgiveness. I am both baffled and intrigued by the role of Judas – also, of how Christians view him. Most would say that Judas was possessed, for we are told the devil entered him, and lost forever. But Jesus, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, in a single moment would be betrayed by ALL, washes the feet of the one people blame the most for perfidy.
Iscariot, indeed, had a weakness for silver. The treasurer for the disciples, he pilfered along the way. Jesus knew this, yet kept him as overseer of the money bag. Why?
My thought is that somebody had to play the role of Judas. If not Judas, then somebody else had to fulfill the prophecy of the messiah, his torture, his death, his resurrection – salvation, the avenue intended for every soul’s ultimate deliverance unto God. Maybe there’s a wider spot of clemency for the one chosen to fulfill an ugly yet necessary role.
Many would say that Judas was beyond help, uncaring, unfeeling and consumed with sinful nature. Yet after realizing what he had done, that is, was paid to identify his master to the Roman soldiers via the Sanhedrin by poetically placing a kiss on his cheek, scripture (Matthew 27:5) says that he threw down the pieces of silver he received as payment for the dirty deed, and went out and hanged himself. Does that sound like somebody who was uncaring and unfeeling?
The end appears hopeless. Judas hung himself – an act of desperation. And after the body had fried in the hot Jerusalem sun, bloated from bacterial gases, it fell to the ground and erupted. It’s a messy, distorted picture. It appears like he got what he deserved and this was his entrance to hell.
But who would really know, except God, if Judas Iscariot, an unconditionally loved child of God, in his last remorseful breath, had cried out in his weakened constitution, “Forgive me. Forgive me.” In that private, desperate moment, between him and his maker, who could honestly say?
Forgiveness driven or regret driven…is there even a difference?
Whatever happened to the value of solitude, simplicity, of being still? Seems I’ve examined the lives of others around me for years and, shaking my head, quietly whispered words of gratitude that I hadn’t run around as frantically as they do. You know…work, more work, even more work, appointments, obligations, juggling family needs, kid diversions, school, cleaning, renovations, getting ahead, jumping from place to place, event to event, constant stimuli everywhere one turns; the rat race. I’d once vouched never to subject my child to an ever-streaming deluge of entertainment-based activities. Once in a while is all right, maybe even special. Boredom once did a child good, served a purpose, propelled creativity and stretched independent thinking. I don’t know what happened, but I’m suddenly THAT person, the one I’d once, in a small way, pitied, who has tipped away the beautiful scales of balance. I’m overwhelmed with busyness. Life has grown too chaotic. Downtime is complicated. First, it’s hard to achieve. Second, when you actually make it happen, a rare pencil mark on the calendar, that moment arrives and doesn’t seem to be enough. You’re thirsty for more. At the same time, guilt has a way of wiggling in there telling you that it’s not okay to relax – as long as there are other things to do, and there are ALWAYS other things to be done. How did this all happen? I don’t like being this busy, when I can’t stop for a second to watch a bird teeter on a twig. Because I enjoy that…watching birds teeter on twigs. Indeed, daily life has grown chaotic. Like the structure of those around me in what has become the normal standard of life. Can I still breathe? Maybe I should freeze for a second to find out. I’m not sure this kind of frenzied lifestyle is great or healthy, but this seems to be the way it has become. As if there is a subliminal message in our culture that busyness equates to importance. Can we be too busy for our own good? For me, that’s a definite yes. I begin my rebellion today. Just after I take care of this one thing first.
I had once imagined that writing as a day job meant having the leisure to sit around eating bonbons while big bucks overwhelm my bank accounts. However, bonbons and sitting almost never equate to cash flow. And I’m way beyond unreasonable expectations. Granted, I will pull story ideas from the clouds, sometimes, while savoring a square of dark chocolate, now and again. But I've learned that writing is hard work requiring willpower, particularly when the earnings sway more often conservatively. Writing demands so much time that on occasion I do wish I could sit the day away eating bonbons, one by one, as clouds drift by, one after the other. Nevertheless, if one is not disciplined, driven to completing tasks, projects of any kind would never get accomplished. A writer’s mode of operation is dedication – and dedication can be summarized into another smaller word with greater meaning: love. Writing is a labor of love.
A love/hate relationship, that’s what I have with my smartphone. I love that I can access a library of books and music wherever I go. I love certain apps from the convenient GPS to a metronome. I even favor the alarm clock feature. And there’s a certain level of security with a smartphone. If you get stuck, virtually anything is one call or swipe away.
I hate that I've come to carry my smartphone from the downstairs to the upstairs, room to room. When I realized that leaving the device behind made me apprehensive I decided to go dark for a few days. Yes that’s right, I turned it off and shoved it aside. You know what happened? I plugged into my writing better, met a deadline faster, etc., without multilevel distractions. I had clarity of mind, focus, and the environment held peace. Later in the day I acted kinder, with more patience. And I slept well without the bombardment of texts that I've known to continue to 1 AM. I remember the day when it was considered inappropriate to makes calls or visits after 9 PM. Does text etiquette exist? I wouldn't know.
Maybe this course of action wasn't such a good idea in its entirety, because I did happen to miss a few impromptu engagements. But, I don’t know, it seemed some detachment was needed.
Hello again, world! I've come back to you, to the crazy, hectic, and always a tap-call-or-buzz away by the power of a button. It’s me and my smartphone again. Together we love/hate. Although, I've since come to believe that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder…and healthier…and maybe I shouldn't depend on a device so much, or be at communication’s beck and call without a little therapeutic solitude now and again.
I want a t-shirt that says “I HAVE ISSUES.” It would serve as part of the 7 Steps to Humanity program. Geared especially for those in the political arena, for I've come to learn that politics is the Great Evil (late bloomer, I know…). Politics can turn the most mild-mannered, soft-spoken individual into Chief Butthead (apologies first to my dear mother for my use of the “B” word then to everyone else for behaving like one).
It’s like this. The next time you start to make a politically charged statement that has the potential to offend and/or hurt others, one might just point to the shirt, a silent reminder that you’re stepping out of bounds, and vice versa. I’ll be the first (hand raised) to commit to wearing one. This proposal could be a remedy for the shame of having to apologize to gobs of people or burying your head in the sand. A solution to save our society from dystopia. Think about it. We all wear the shirts and we become better, more conscientious people. People who value, respect, and uphold all humankind, regardless of background, race, sides, and conditions. We understand each other. We’re all in this together. Now imagine a sea of I HAVE ISSUES in Congress. Wow. Talk about humility. Simple, right?
It would never work.
When you discover that somebody duped you in a deal, it’s easy to want to grill the other party, seize what should be yours, to balance the imbalanced by taking whatever measures necessary. But when you’re a person of faith, you might need to look at it in a different light. Sometimes choosing to be the good, honest person means washing your hands of the situation, to walk away with a clean conscience and leave the imposed fallout on the other party’s head. Even if what has transpired is unfair to you and “letting go” means financial sacrifice or loss. It’s a delicate line.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16
As these things go, I am growing ever shrewder. I’ve learned a valuable lesson. For that, I thank the duper. Wisdom is hard earned but priceless. Never make the same mistake twice.
I couldn't sleep. I guess my nerves were on edge. I felt unsettled about the condition of the world, the state of society, a broken political climate becoming sicker at an alarming rate. Peace, kindness, understanding…forgiveness; a culture without blatant double standards. Where had they gone? When had everything become so complicated within and without? Had a veil covered my vision all along and the unfavorable things existed yet were hidden from my eyes? Or have things, on the whole, truly made a turn for an all-time low?
Before sunrise I stepped outside of the house, consumed with restless thoughts, believing that a bit of fresh air might be good. Under the blanket of a night sky, I glanced up and was struck by the brilliance of the stars. Then it dawned on me that it had been a very long time since I had observed the stars. It used to be a bit of a pastime. What even happened to that diversion? Maybe the change occurred in me, went unnoticed. I had forgotten to appreciate the simple things.
I stood there outdoors, inhaling deeply over and again—I couldn't get enough!—and admired the infinite space, the sparkling lights, each a kind of promise, a reminder that out there, the heavens, is so much greater than anything in my little realm. The Maker of those stars is in control. If he can create and handle all of that and more, he can help me manage the issues of today - issues that seem transitory in the greater scheme of life. A gaze at the stars left me with the profound wish to return to the simple things. How effortless, and yet how beautiful and healing…one upward glance.
I like change. I like to try new things. Often in life, I heed the advice of respected advisors, following many counseled moves. This is golden! Sometimes though, I want to explore all on my own with blinders to the
peripheral world. Where I can reflect alone, move untouched, and survey
uninterrupted. Some of what I thought of as little trinkets along those paths of discovery proved valuable nuggets of treasure—even those that have
challenged greatly. One never knows what is beyond until your feet take you
there; one step after the other with an unremitting focus on what’s straight
ahead. We live. We learn. We gain wisdom.
Dorian Gray, led by his vanity into insatiable lust for pleasure, much later recognizes how depraved he had become. Pleasure did not his happiness make, so he goes to a priest and begs for help in a 2009 movie remake of the classic. The priest, unfamiliar with the depth of this man’s sin, in turn, gives him a trained response. In Dorian’s profound misery the priest’s pat answer wasn’t enough, because his soul was rotten to the core. He’d done despicable things. Help. Me. Gray beseeched. The priest glanced away, lacking the words to bring solace to a devastated individual desperate for a chance at good.
“Speak, man! Do something,” I retorted to the out-of-touch priest. I implored that if I have ear to a broken soul bleeding sorrows, those words already burning in my heart would trickle from my tongue and propel a dark character to light.
Not for the sensitive viewer, this particular film is full of unsavory, hard to
swallow scenes. But I must say that the pivotal point of Dorian Gray would not have been as powerful had I not witnessed them. It fed my compassion for the desperate seeker.
Might be overused, but I still favor the phrase It is what it is. In some situations it’s really the best description. For example, when a circumstance is such that you pray for change yet change doesn’t come. In spite of valiant efforts, if something doesn’t transform, at some point you have to toss your hands to the heavens and say, “It is what it is,” in order to move forward.
There’s something of a comfort in the act of simply accepting a condition even though it’s not at all what you desired.
It is what it is . . . a reminder, a mindset, that I’m not the one in control. I never was nor will be. The One who holds the fact, future, and hope is what it is. I could choose to fret and clamor for something evidently futile, or trust to learn from, grow, and progress through an experience. Fretting or
trusting today, which will it be?