Now, last Sunday I was not present but still the saints (that’s all y’all) gathered round the table. You prayed. And you checked in. There had been two weeks of trying to live peaceably with others; two weeks of living in harmony. And you brought the reports back. It wasn’t easy. The conversation flowed and a theme that emerged was that in intimate relationships (you know — those close relationships with people you see often, people who you love & who love you, people who you just can’t avoid because they are part of the daily routine — they make up a big part of life — yes, those intimate relationships) THIS IS HARD. Like really hard. Living in harmony with people we really live with (or are in very close proximity with) is not easy. Now I was not there for this conversation (a HUGE thank you to Gina for facilitating Adult Study!) but please let me wonder aloud as I consider this challenging theme:
I wonder if we find it hard to be honest in the most intimate of relationships because there is so much history, and because the people are so important to us? I wonder if often we might find ourselves in the extremes, either just saying “yes” to everything (except our needs) to keep the peace — or if we are those who are so demanding to get our way because it’s right & peaceful? All because we don’t want to (or don’t think we can) disrupt the peace. (Note: this is perhaps more appropriately considered either a fake peace or a peace of avoidance — which is no peace at all!) And no — for the record, I do not believe that trying to live in this type of “peace” or “harmony” is not God-honoring. So I wonder what this very hard place might look like if we were willing to pray in these spaces, God please help, God show me what harmony is in my most intimate relationships…in the ones that I hold dear….I wonder. (OK pondering done).
So we were challenged in the daily living in peace & harmony and then shifted to the daily routine we have been engaging (& will continue to engage all month) of reading Proverbs. One Proverb each day. Sunday was Oct. 7th, and so Proverbs 7 was the chapter of the day. The chapter was read through 5 verses at a time and conversation flowed. Noticing things that perhaps were not seen prior, hearing the wisdom of this book, this instruction, as not just about one type of morality, but about everything. And talking about how do we avoid temptation, how do we deal with what we struggle with?
Proverbs 7 begins,
My child, keep my words and store up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live, keep my teachings as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 7:1-3, New Revised Standard Version)
And I wonder as we continue in this book; as we try to read 1 Proverb each day of this month; is this how we bind these words on our fingers? Is this how we write scripture on the table of our heart? In going daily back, even when it’s hard, even when we know we do not understand in fullness, even when we are so tired and our minds so full (or whatever) that it seems the scripture – the living Word of God — has no room to enter; I wonder if it is in this practice, this going back, this daily seeking to hear something — if it is here that we do exactly what this wisdom literature bids us do?
And so we come to the homework that follows us all this month. To be reading 1 Proverb a day. To be open to hearing from God in this way. To seeing what might happen as we turn to this wisdom (which may at times seem too much to understand, or so simple that we all know it) and humbly allow God to continue to work that has already begun in us — for it is not yet done.
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater