What is the State of Your Soul?

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So much has burned down in our world, hasn’t it?

The landscape has changed. Friendships have changed. Trust has been eroded.  I no longer stand where I stood even two years ago. Some days I shake my head, many days I get angry and other days, I just want to cry.

I feel like we have been through Fire.

Last week, I sat in a living room in the mountains of Colorado with other faith leaders and someone asked us all this question: What is the state of your soul?

The night before we’d sat in that same living room and a prominent pastor had commented on the absolute beauty surrounding us. It was true. The sky, the moon, the mountains, the expanses that proclaimed the glory of God—it was stunning. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think about the stories the land could tell. I couldn’t stop thinking about the pain and the blood that had been shed on ancient indigenous land. I didn’t know how to hold both the pain and the beauty.

I don’t want to be lulled by the beauty.

Author and Activist Carlos Rodriguez on a panel about “Jesus as Activist” at Simply Jesus said that there is a GO  in “Gospel.” And if we don’t live out that “go,” all we are left with is a “spel.” We can go to church and read our Bibles, but be under a spell. We can pray and we can think we are doing all the right things, but we are under a spell.

Unless we go, we aren’t fulfilling the full intent of the gospel.

Unless we learn from those who have been oppressed, unless we hear the other side of the stories, unless we look behind the veils, we can so easily be lulled into believing our position is so righteous and holy, but we can actually miss the heart of the gospel.

I didn’t want to be under the spell of beauty and forget the pain of the land we were gathering on. I want to hold both the pain and the beauty.

Then I was asked, What is the state of your soul?

Driving up into those mountains, 200km out of Denver, to gather with the Simply Jesus family, the state of my soul was grief. I’d been feeling a deep grief over the state of our world, the separation of family and children at borders, the hatred against refugees, pipelines, history being unveiled, white people calling the police on black people, black communities in South Africa still without toilets, suicides, misinformation, the division in the family of faith, loss of friendship, the amount of fearmongering, the increasing division …

We are inside a raging fire and the state of my soul is grief.

And yet.

And yet, I follow Jesus.

I follow a Middle-Eastern rabbi who knew what it was like to be a refugee and to be despised and rejected. I follow the Son of God who chose to come live in brown skin inside Roman occupation, die like a criminal, lay down his life and rise again.

I follow the Creator of Heaven and Earth who calls us to the work of justice and partnering with the God of Heaven who promises to make all things new. I never, ever think it is only for one day, when we die. I believe God longs to make all things new wherever and whenever God can.

It feels like I am standing in the charred remains of a paradigm that no longer exists. I have been here before, so I am not afraid. But it doesn’t take away from the grief.

The world I saw, is no longer the world I see.

We have been through fire and the landscape of our souls has been charred.

This is where the Beauty enters in. I believe in a God who makes beauty out of ashes and who turns sorrows into dancing.  As I was sitting in that living room, staring out at the mountains, yet intimate with the grief of the world, I felt the familiar stirring. There is work to be done.

There is still the work of justice to be done.

We are called to make right, set the world right, to apply our hearts and our hands to see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

The work of justice is not meant to burn us out. We are meant to delight in God and delight in the work of justice. Doing the work of justice both delights the Lord and it brings us delight.

Fires burn and we are left with the charred remains. After the fire, we are invited to see the landscape in new ways. We are meant to imagine a new world. We are invited to imagine the delight of God as we do the work of justice.

My heart was so tender when I arrived at Simply Jesus last week. It was good for me to be in the presence of like-minded and like-hearted people. It was good to be together.

I hadn’t realized how much I had been hurt by the fire all around. I hadn’t realized just how it had weakened me and discouraged me.

But when I looked up to the mountains, I remembered, my help comes from the Creator of the Universe. Our help comes from the Creator of the Universe.

I am encouraged by the words of Coretta Scott King who saw the importance of women to the movement of justice and I tie it to my heart:

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” —Coretta Scott King

So, my friends, my sisters:

Do not be discouraged.
Take heart.
There is a long road to walk, but we are not walking this alone.
Take care of your soul.
It is not up to us to solve all the problems of the world.
We are simply meant to do our part.
Keep following Jesus.
Keep seeking justice.
Keep asking questions.
Keep chasing after Love and sowing Love like our lives depend on it.
Keep leaning in and listening for the stories that have been silenced.
Keep following the rabbi who was willing to look like a criminal in the eyes of his peers.
Don’t be afraid.
Stay humble.
Keep doing the good work.

___________________________________

Question:

  • What is the state of your soul today, my sisters?
  • Where do you feel discouraged?
  • Where do you see the Beauty break through?
  • What encourages you?
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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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