How often do you place the blame on everything around you when you forget to realize that you are actually the wingnut in the midst of the problem itself?
I was reminded of this by Fr. Stephen Wang the author of one of my new favorite blogs Bridges and Tangents. (a hat tip to Paul Snatchko for pointing him my way) Check out this sign he reflected on recently.:
How often do I curse the “traffic” in front of me? And as a new driver no less! I forget that I am in the traffic myself and creating just as much of a logjam as everyone else around me! We de-humanize the problem and place our frustration on “the other.”
People come before problems, don’t they? We’re all trying to get where we’d like to go. Air travel often gets people frustrated, especially with the new regulations and pat-downs and body scans. Perhaps that’s at the heart of this question and perhaps our dignity gets removed when we are treated like chattel? But we need to be above that as well. It’s all to easy to be “that guy” who makes a big scene because one person jumped ahead of you on the airport line.
The deeper psychological issue here is blame. These injustices can’t be our fault, can it? If “things” are not our fault, then we have to pass that blame on to another or feel helpless at the injustice itself.
So we protect ourselves. We tell ourselves that we can’t possibly be part of such a broken and messed up world. We are not in the middle of the mess.
But we are.
I think advent wakes us up to the fact that we are mired in an imperfect unjust world. And to make matters worse, none of us have all the solutions to end every single problem that’s out there.
And as we wait for Christmas, it’s not exactly comforting to realize that God too was in the midst of the mess. Jesus saw the world for what it is and tried to point us in the direction of caring for each other even when the world tells us that it is hopeless. Faith enables us to see the glass as always being not half-full but overflowing. The world is a mess and Jesus comes into it anyway–by choice. The free gift of grace embodied in the carpenter’s son, who was pressed in by the traffic in the marketplace and overwhelmed by the gravity of human life.
Each day, I awaken to the fact that something is simply going to disappoint me that day. It might be something small but the best part of me is not going to show itself in every situation.
But as I awaken, I also know that God will be there with me, sharing disappointment and tragedy, elated by the wonder and awe of the world and overjoyed simply by the fact that I am a child of God.
I am the traffic. I am part of the communion of souls that are indeed on a bumpy journey to the source of our being. Accidents, traffic jams, skids, bad weather, smooth sailing, overcrowded highways, green lights, stop signs and no place to park are all part of the deal in life.
It makes me feel small and connected to something wonderful all at the same time.
I am the traffic. So how about enjoying the ride today?