I remember reading somewhere the story of a timepiece repairman. While traveling the repairman stopped at a village who had no working timepieces because for over 20 years they hadn’t had anyone who could repair them. The people were elated with the idea of having their watches and clocks working again. So they gathered their tick-less pocket watches, silent cuckoo clocks, and any other timepieces they had and brought them to him for repair. The townspeople waited for nearly a week as the repairman carefully worked on each piece. When he returned the timepieces to the owners they were surprised and dismayed to learn he had only been able to repair the pieces whose owners had kept them wound. Because they were the only ones who were able to remember how to keep time.
For most of us, time feels stranger than normal right now. The schedules, routines, and commutes which previously dictated how most hours of our days were spent, have nearly all vanished due to stay-at-home orders. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, time only exists where there is the mass in motion. Most of us have “moved our personal masses” far less lately than we were previously accustomed too. Which is why maybe, time feels so strange. The rotation of the earth, seemingly unaffected by the pandemic, provides the familiar hours of daylight and night to help us relearn how to mark time. As apparently it wasn’t our continually hustle/bustle movement that made the world spin and time occur.
Though we don’t need to keep in motion in order for the sun to rise and fall we are still owners of our time. Let me be clear that ownership is not about possession; it is about responsibility. What you take responsibility for is far more important than what you own. If you abdicate responsibility for your life, you become powerless to change it. The cadence of our lives before the pandemic allowed for an” I would _________ but I’m too busy” excuse to be believable, both for the speaker and the listener. Now, however, we are forced to admit it wasn’t always a lack of time that plagued us, but rather a lack of desire. Nothing will steal your strength like living a life you do not love. If most of us were to look at our lives honestly, we would find that there is no victim, no villain, there are only us and our choices.
The short-sightedness of our choices, in regards to the laws that compose our systems, has been revealed over the past few months; by the flourishing of nature, the clearing of pollution, and the vastity of businesses and systems that are collapsing/on the verge of collapse. Previously when creating systems, too often choices were made where people weren’t factored as the highest value in the systems. When problems arose we implemented a new social program or started a new non-profit to “provide a solution”, rather than taking a bigger picture viewpoint as to why the problem occurred. We crafted systems that focused on the appeasement of individuals’ ego instead of the restoration of individuals’ dignity. We turned the word ‘leader’ into a noun to describe a position of power, instead of an adjective to describe someone whom others willingly followed because of their character.
We all have been designed with the desire for leadership crafted into our core. We want to follow someone whom we trust. We want to follow someone who knows the way. We want to follow someone who will look out for us because we long to be that for others. The person who leads but does not taste sorrow and the realities of humanness obscures the path rather than clarifies it. We are all crafted with the desire to be a ‘leader’, but we have forgotten that it is a title that cannot be earned in any other manner other than example.
We were not intended to see another’s strength and gifts as signs of diminishment to our own strength and gifts any more than we were intended to hold creation hostage by establishing systems that deplete the natural resources. What we create should add to the beauty and strength of what is already there. Our strength is not formed in standing alone but in connecting to the things around us. Our identities are rooted in connectedness, we know ourselves best when we are known by others. When we pursue what we love we are energized with life and we inspire those around us to do the same. We do not see the world as it is; we see the world as we are.
We’ve spent a lot of time telling the world what we “need” when we should have been asking ourselves ‘What can I bring?’. You can only bring to the world what you have already fought for. It’s taken a global pandemic to remind us how interconnected mankind is, both with each other and with nature. We come into this world small, helpless human beings. We don’t get to choose whether or not we have above-average talent, intelligence, or physical attributes. What we do get to choose is what we do with what we have. In creation, everything has its place, its relationships, and its intentions. We are intended to be reflections of all that is good in the world. Our misuse of free will has done much to distort and wound the good. But this does not make the original good any less glorious.
A mentor once told me that ‘when you lose your intention, you are vulnerable to your worst decisions’. We can lose or live beneath our intention when we violate the essence of who we were created to be. We cannot go around bent under the sins of our ancestors, but we can strive to prevent their repetition; we can learn from them. As we begin to rebuild may we remember that people are the treasures of this Kingdom. We are not intended to rule, control, or manipulate each other. We are intended to work together to create systems that bring out the best in all of us.
The architect I consult with has told me that we don’t build cathedrals anymore because we are not willing to make the sacrifices required to build something so beautiful and noble. May we choose to sacrifice quick fix gratification systems for the creation of systems that are cathedral worthy. May we not strive less to be in a position of authority and strive instead to be leaders that are worthy of being trusted. May we choose the way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit towards reconciliation and justice. May we remember who’s insignia we bear.
May we stay wound.
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