Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still. - T.S. Eliot, from: Ash Wednesday
In a conversation over coffee this past Sunday after church I was asked what I thought about the recent news regarding Jean Vanier. It was suggested that perhaps I should say something about this.
I will confess that I have not read any of the news stories about the revelations regarding Jean Vanier and so I am not familiar with the details. I have chosen to not read these stories purposely for two reasons. One, part of my Lenten practice is to read less news.
The second reason is more personal. I have a dear friend whose life has been terribly scarred by sexual abuse and as her friend I have chosen very consciously to be a person who listens to her story at the various times it resurfaces. I hold that with a sense of terrible privilege, with a broken heart, and with prayers that often do not feel adequate. I am aware of my own limitations in hearing stories about abuse. I consciously choose to not know the details of every story that comes along, even as I offer prayers for healing.
Horrible things happen in this world and many of them at the hands of human beings. Why we have such a propensity for harm of the other, even justifying it in absurd and sickening ways, is such a mystery to me. It often challenges my faith.
The only thing I have to say about Jean Vanier is that he has "met his maker" - and whatever that means is between him and God at this point. I am fatigued not only by the violence and abuse humanity hurls at one another, I am also fatigued by the court of public judgment.
Despite the many gifts of the internet and modern communication, one of the severe downfalls is the amount of information we are seemingly expected to not only process but respond to.
The comedian and political commentator, Hasan Minhaj, on his show, Patriot Act, announced that he was only going to care about some issues, not all issues. He acknowledged that it was simply too much to care about everything. There is a profound truth to this.
This conscious choice does not diminish the evil that is perpetrated by others. It does not excuse or justify. It simply recognizes that we are limited as human beings in what we can give, what we can hold, what we can care about. And if we allow the world to drag us down the road of deeply caring about it all, we will be overcome.
I believe God's hands and heart are big enough to carry it all. And that carrying is disbursed among us, God's people. Our responsibility is to be prayerfully discerning regarding what it is we are called to carry, to pray for.
I trust that there are good and thoughtful leaders in the church who will have important and hopefully helpful things to say about Jean Vanier and the impact of his actions, his choices. I am not one of them at this time.
I would welcome your response to this blog post. Send any comments, questions or thoughts to my email ([email protected]) and I will share in another post. We are all living in a world filled with tremendous amounts of bad news - how are you coping?