It’s Complicated

By Lynn Willis

It's ComplicatedA while back I listened to Brother Chris Markert who is a Lutheran Franciscan –  a modern monastic. I asked him about his vow of poverty. What does that look like? Do you, for example, buy the 99 cent a dozen eggs so that you live on the least amount of money? Or the 5-dollar free-range eggs because that is more earth friendly?

His answer, which wasn’t very satisfying to me at the time, was “each person must make that decision for themselves”.

I listened to a Rabbi who said “the Kosher food laws are concerned with killing the animal in the least painful way. But modern observant young Jews frequently wish to know that the animal was treated well during its lifetime. So they are more likely to buy a pasture raised chicken than go to the Kosher butcher.”

And then there was the Imam who said that observant Moslems display revelation mixed with reason (no chickens in this example). He said that we need to see the “text in context”.

All three of these people of God observe that God wishes us to be mindful in all our actions. We are called to make thoughtful choices. This is a lot harder than blindly following law or custom. This takes some thought, some prayer, and some feelings. It takes an attitude of openness, of listening, and of learning.

All of Jesus’ teachings can be summed up with “practice the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law.”

So how will I know if I am right? This is where faith, hope and love take center stage. Richard Rohr wrote, “I don’t need to be perfectly certain before I take the next step. Now I can trust that even my mistakes will be used in my favor, if I allow them to be. Love is the source and goal, faith is the slow process of getting there, and hope is the willingness to move forward without resolution or closure.”

So how much water I use, which foods I choose to eat, which products I purchase, and how I interact with other people – all of these and more can remind me of my relationship with God and how God has asked us to live in this world.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. Grant me also Lord, the ability to learn and to make thoughtful choices. In faith, in hope and in love with you, Lord. Amen