As I continue my Advent reflections on borders, I find myself pondering some related ideas.
The first come as a pair: enticement and enforcement. These connect with the question of why people cross borders. I think of enticement in terms of why people come: for a better or safer life, to join family members, a belief that the grass is greener elsewhere…. Then there’s enforcement, which I’m thinking in terms of why people block others from coming: a sense of scarcity, insecurity, outright racism and xenophobia…. These two forces meet and clash at our borders. That’s where the chaos comes in.
No matter how hard we try to live in peace with one another, problems will arise. One of the speakers at the recent Border Summit (I am sorry that I don’t remember who, and my notes don’t say!) actually discouraged us from trying to make things look pretty, or promising, or solved. She said we should insist on the chaos, allow what is “strategically raw,” and not rush to present solutions. Her instructions were to partner, pray, and serve, rather than seek to solve.
Americans have a hard time not fixing things. We’re programmed to solve problems, starting with math equations in elementary school. It’s hard to let go, step back, and not be in charge or control. It’s challenging to live with chaos, especially when it’s plastered all over the news and social media.
So, how do we seek service instead of solutions? If God is in charge, then solutions will unfold as we show up, pay attention, tell the truth, and don’t get attached to results (to quote another series I’ve shared in the past). If we “let go and let God,” we can be guided toward what the Holy Spirit wants our service to be in any particular period of our lives.
As we await Christ’s coming, we must recognize our inherent powerlessness. We don’t know when or how Christ will appear. We also, mostly, can’t fix the chaos around us. We can choose enforcement, pushing people away because of our fears and insecurities, or we can choose to invite the “other” into our lives, to see what the Holy Spirit would have us learn by crossing that border between, as Buber put it, “I” and “Thou.” When we open ourselves to relationship, we allow the reign of God to unfold in and through our service.
What opportunities for relationship and service have shown up in your life, without you making it happen? How did these opportunities unfold?
When have you tried to make things happen? How did that work for you?