Reflections on Palm Sunday – Looking for My Road to My Cross and Life Beyond.
For months now, I have been trying to figure out how to approach the problem set before me as a Christian in America in the 21st century. To be honest, I don’t want to engage. What I have to say will lead to hatred from all sides. Among the group I grew up with, my rebuke will sting – triply so. Nobody likes being called out, less still by one like me whose failures and sins are many and more than a few easily seen. But worst of all, I will be exposing the root of their sin – pride in self-righteousness. In doing so, I will be accused by many of having waned in my love for what is Good and Holy because I will insist on dealing kindly with those whom they, in self-righteousness, now love to hate. I will be accused of falling in love with the world and abandoning the fight for Truth and Goodness.
Yet, to those who I will try to extend the olive branch… still will I be hated and reviled. For though I rebuke those who speak ill and hate you for the way you live, still I will not and cannot call what you cling to in desperation for happiness good. I do not fault you for trying – indeed, I have tried many of them myself (and of those I have not tried it is only because my tastes do not even give me the fleeting sensation of mirth that my own temptations do, not because I have proven stronger in resistance). Nor do I judge you for not surrendering those things closest to you yet, as not only did not want to for many years, but, even now that I do desire, I still struggle between my sincere wish to complete my repentance fully in body and mind as my soul yearns, for until this body dies and the work of redemption fully completed in the resurrection, still will its wayward desires and dark cravings battle me at every turn. Though my sinful nature is mortally wounded, still in its dying throes does it grab at me and cause me to stumble as I walk toward Life Everlasting. But to repent and resist those corrupted parts of us are we called and indeed commanded, not to celebrate. Yes, we are marvelously made and worthy of celebration, but we are also tainted. We celebrate the good, and we mourn and try to purge the evil. And to do so is not easy, for like cancer, the good and the malignant are so intertwined around each other that only with determination, patience, healthy living, and the assistance of a Surgeon beyond our skill can the bad be cut away and yet the good left to heal. But healing we must all still seek and not celebrate the parts of the body that must be removed lest it at last in overgrowth strangle all that was once good.
So what do I hope to accomplish? For myself, this will, at least in this life, lead to a cultural homelessness. I will not be welcomed, much less celebrated, by any group of substantial power. Nor am I delusional, I know that few – if any – will listen to what I say. I’m not trying to “start a movement.” No, my only hope is that Him who I found – though He was the one doing the searching – is True, and that even just one soul who hears the call of Love of our Savior is worth any cost, because that one will forever be a treasure beyond price to our Lord, and a life of Joy unending for the one treasured.
And what if none listen? What if it is all pointless in the end? Well, I might not succeed – that is true – but even so it will not all be in vain. There is an intrinsic and transcendent value to speaking Truth, even if no one else hears it. For starters, it reminds me of what is True, lest in all the confusion I forget as well. But even more importantly, Truth demands to be spoken because in Goodness Truth will not deny even those who refuse Good of the Opportunity. There is goodness in choice, even if the correct choice is spurned. Otherwise, it is a mindless, empty tragedy. Hope refused still for a brief moment shown its light where otherwise dark despair would have reigned unchallenged in its ruthless dominion over its captives. For the briefest instance, even those doomed to darkness were given a respite, even if they didn’t know it and fled.
Why say these things now? Because at last, I am free of the fear of the loss that may accompany saying such things. I lived with many of the consequences I feared if I spoke up without ever having said them. And wouldn’t that be the most foolish thing I could do (and yet so like me), to suffer the ill I feared without ever partaking in the Good to which I am called?
God help me to speak – lovingly and correctly – and cause any vain words I speak to be unheard until I learn to speak better; for silence is no longer an option.