Say ‘Yes’ and trust in God – by Katie Spero

In the Gospel this week we hear the disciples say, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” When I hear this I think about the upcoming year of Sunday School beginning so soon on September 9th.  I think of Sunday School because I’ve learned over the past year that what can seem a difficult teaching from Jesus for an adult can be seen clearly and confidently by the youth in our atria.  And when I think back to my relationship with the lessons life presented me with as a child I see that the main facilitator of that learning was trust.  There was an unspoken yet bright light of trust that surrounded me everywhere I went, in any situation.  I didn’t need a reason to trust that, whatever happened, all of my needs would be attended to.  I just went through life as if I was cared for, as if someone knew exactly what I was going through at any given moment and knew what would be called for even if I did not.

We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “lead us not into temptation,” because the longer we live, life’s circumstances often tempt us to lose our trust in God, to live afraid and worried, to lose our hope.  And yet, here is where glory is born and where grace breaks through.  This is how we transform into the best versions of ourselves.  This is how we learn who we came here to be. What may look like a difficult outer life circumstance can be a transcendent inner life experience.  When we say “yes” to God’s teachings we are changed by God Himself, instead of by what happens to us.  In this way all of life lifts us higher and higher towards God’s greatest will our experiences. When a situation was meant on the worldly level to bring you down, God will take it and use it to raise you up.  Temptations to despair are transmuted into the glory of God in the instant that you decide to trust Him.  Not only will He strengthen you to face the day, but He will take control of your inner experience of your life.  He’ll show you the eye of the storm.  This is where I lived as a child, in that peaceful center within, unaware of the storm of the world raging around me.  How much deeper the peace now that I am fully aware of the storm, while experiencing myself unmoved, held in the palm of God’s hand.

Let’s go through life as if we are cared for.  As if someone knows exactly what we are going through, and knows what is needed for the day.  This is the spiritual path.  This is accepting the lesson.

Stopped In My Tracks

My commute to and from work is relatively short– only about 20 minutes, door-to-door. With such a short trip, I become keenly aware of anything that lengthens it. I mean, I’m a fairly impatient person, so anything that causes me to slow down without my consent presents a challenge for me.

This evening my return trip was brought to a standstill by a protest on Lake Shore Drive. My initial reaction was, “…seriously, a protest right during rush hour! I thought they did protests downtown.” My second reaction was, “smart idea, actually, good for them…” even though I wasn’t even sure what it was about.

When I got home I went online to see why the crowds had gathered and I was immediately confronted with a photo of the protesters. The image was an all too familiar one, angry faces, clenched fists, signs raised. But, one thing stood out to me– several signs which read, “North Side Ignores Gun Violence”

You see they were protesting gun violence, yes, but more specifically their goal was to “redistribute the pain” caused by gun violence in this city. I felt that lump in my throat as I gave that a long hard thought.

We can so easily become numb to someone else’s pain… sometimes we even become numb to our own pain. In a city as large and segregated as Chicago, we can indeed turn our attention to our own pressing issues of potholes and burnt out streetlights, while we quietly sweep the violence of the south and west sides of this city under the rug. Even though we feel anger about gun violence, maybe even witnessed a violent act in our own neighborhood, we still view it as an “outside” element that has somehow pushed its way into our typically peaceful streets. “It never used to be like this in our neighborhood” someone recently said to me, referring to the turf wars between gangs. We seem to forget that Chicago has long been a violent place, with the 1990s bringing a level of gang violence that swept through the city like a cancer.

Jesus’ wisdom teaches us that there is no division between God and human, human and human. The only walls we experience in relation to one another are the ones we artificially erect– they are not a natural part of creation. When one person is hurting, we all hurt. When one person is murdered, it is a death we all feel. Or, at least, we can… if we move into the unitive spirit that Christ teaches. The one-ness that God created us to be.

Love leads to empathy. Empathy leads to compassion. Compassion leads to hope. Our relationship with God opens a door to greater interdependence and from that interdependence, we can participate in bringing about a new creation. Pray for peace for those who have lost someone to gun violence. Pray for rest for those who have lost their lives. Pray for healing for those who took that life. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9)