One of my favorite things about our annual family vacation up to Puzzle Lake in Ontario is that we can really disconnect from the rest of life. Cell coverage is spotty and expensive. We don’t have TV or internet, just a radio with the occasional weather report and Canadian newscast. We can really take a break from the fast pace and demands of our daily routine. We can get away from the unending clamor of the 24 hour news cycle. Instead, we are surrounded by the beauty of creation, the company of family and friends, the sounds of fish jumping, kids playing, loons calling. I can literally feel my body, mind and spirit breathe a sigh of relief when we drive into camp.
On our recent trip to Texas, I was pleasantly surprised to achieve almost that same sense of disconnection from the outside world. In many of the places we stayed, the free WiFi was so slow or unreliable, I stopped checking email or going online. It was much more pleasant to stay present in the moment, to enjoy the scenery as we learned about Texas history and geography, visited family and friends, and ate way too many donuts, TexMex and BBQ.
Life has a funny way of finding us, no matter where we go. So occasionally, we caught snippets of what was going on in the wider world – the presidential election circus, the bombings in Istanbul and Baghdad, the police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana. Then we woke up on our last morning in Texas to the news of the horrific sniper attack on police officers in Dallas the night before.
As I prepared to lead our congregation in prayer our first Sunday back, it struck me that the Sunday before we left for Texas, 3 weeks prior, I had been struggling to find words to encompass the sorrow and frustration after the terrible attack in the Orlando night club. Now here I was, just 3 weeks later, still struggling, still praying for God’s help and mercy as we coped with even more tragedy, more unnecessary violence, more insidious misunderstanding, racism and hate.
As I got caught up on Facebook, I came across a quote that I have held onto as I’ve reentered daily life after vacation. It is attributed to the Talmud, a collection of early Jewish writings by rabbinical scholars who were trying to help people live the Torah faithfully.
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly now.
Love mercy now.
Walk humbly now.
You are not obligated to complete the work;
but neither are you free to abandon it.
This quote has reminded me that even in the enormity of our sorrow and grief and the complexity of the issues facing us (racism, mental illness, terrorism, just to name a few), as people of faith, we are called to keep on keeping on, following our Savior Jesus Christ, who through his life and death has shown us who God calls us to be in every moment of our living. This quote has been something of a lifeline for me over these past few weeks, helping me to stay connected to God, one another and the world.
Our family is doing a lot of traveling this summer, and I’ve realized yet again that no matter where I go, the challenges of life will probably catch up with me. This is why we always need to take our faith along with us, so that we have a lifeline or a touchstone to remind us of who we are as God’s beloved children and who God calls us to be as faithful disciples. So wherever you go this summer, for work or vacation, near or far, don’t forget to pack your faith, so that you can stay connected to the One who loves us and calls us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
See you in church,