I promise, I promise that I will not forever be talking about prison on here. At some point, the students will make an appearance again. It simply seems that the most striking things are happening in prison.
The other night, we were following a winding conversation that started from Sunday’s Gospel. We discussed being the one sheep that wanders away and how the generous love of the Father always seeks us out. One of the inmates reflected on how God’s love sometimes doesn’t seem gentle, as He protects us from worse things. He compared it to an experience he had as a father where he had to stop his child from running into traffic but that action made the child cry. Yet it was necessary in order to save the child from greater danger or even death. It was likened to prison, a place I’ve frequently heard them refer to as a place that saved them while also grumbling against it.
Another inmate listened to this and then quoted from memory, “The Father disciplines the one He loves.”
And that other inmate just nodded his head and said, “Thank God.”
Continue reading “He Disciplines the One He Loves”
I often find myself living life the same way I ran seventh-grade cross country.
Simply put: not well.
I remember watching the older runners prior to a race. They were stretching and jogging around, warming up for the few miles they would be running around random golf courses. I understood the stretching part, but I never quite got the jogging part. For me, finishing the race meant I should store up as much energy as possible. Sometimes, I was dragging myself across the finish line or walking small sections where there were no cheering fans. Why would I foolishly waste energy just moments before the race?
A few years ago, I was running pretty consistently and I completed a five-mile race. It was as I was finishing the race that I finally understood what those high school students had been doing years ago. Crossing the finish line, I felt really good. In fact, my third and fourth miles felt way better than the first two. My time wasn’t incredible, but I was satisfied with it for myself. I had logged enough miles that I was at the point where I grasped the concept of running so as to warm up. I wasn’t wasting energy–it was instead needed so I could run better. In my conservative, store-up-everything mindset, it was revolutionary to understand that giving some allowed me to give more.
Weekends during the school year and portions of the summer find me falling into that same trap of storing up instead of spending. I’m an introvert and I have yet to find the perfect life balance when my job is one that requires so much extrovertedness. In the evenings, I don’t want to be surrounded by people. On the weekends, I’d rather curl up in my home. During the summer months, I convince myself that relaxing, watching movies, and being a recluse are exactly what I need in order to survive the school year.
But I don’t think that is actually true.
I mean, I want it to be true because that would be an extremely convenient excuse. But it isn’t reality. When I turn in on myself and don’t enter into community, it doesn’t really make me want to be communal later. Instead, I find a dozen more reasons to not go out, to not share myself. Reasons that essentially boil down to being lazy and selfish.
Continue reading “Poured Out”
As much as our world changes and the values and morals alter concurrently, sometimes it is good to see that embedded deep within us is a natural understanding of how we should respond. Many health situations that create controversy and endless disagreements often start from a good intention that is found within us as human beings. The push for assisted suicide generally comes from seeing someone suffering and acknowledging that things shouldn’t be that way. Our desire to eliminate suffering in others is good, but we don’t always pursue the correct course of action.
What this tends to create in society is the belief that each individual should be able to do what they think is best. As an individualistic society, we are quick to argue that nobody can force their beliefs and opinions on me. I am free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Sometimes we will add the caveat “as long as I am not hurting anyone,” but often, culturally, we see our freedom as the one objective truth.
Do you remember hearing roughly a month ago about a MLB umpire who saved a woman from jumping off the Roberto Clemente bridge in Pittsburgh? I found the story a beautiful testament of someone caring about a stranger and doing something when others just walked by. What I find particularly interesting about the story is how it was reported. People came together to help a woman who was trying to jump off the bridge and commit suicide. John Tumpane, the man who first started helping the woman, is spoken of as a hero and as someone who saved another person’s life. These weren’t Christian news agencies, but this event was reported very similarly in several mainstream secular articles.
I agree that he was able to help save someone’s life, but I find the cultural inconsistency obvious.
This woman didn’t want to live. She made a plan, she started to carry out that plan, and then she was stopped by someone walking by. Most people will look at this as a positive ending to a story that could have been tragic. We see someone wanting to end it all and we rejoice that someone noticed and she was able to hopefully receive the help she needed.
In a purely individualistic sense, what I see is a woman who was not allowed to make a choice she wanted to make. She wanted to end her life, but other people decided that her life was worth living, worth saving. To us, it is easy to see this as heroism in action.
Why do we as a culture not view this as an infringement on her rights? Continue reading “Heroic Action or Infringement of Rights?”