Day 33 of Lent
Day 7 of Lockdown in New Zealand
Day 1 of unemployment, and being a pastor without a community.
Day 1 of April: April Fools Day
2020 isn’t a great year for April Fool’s jokes.Not practical ones anyway. Memes are in. For a joke to work it needs to connect with our reality in someway before it subverts it. We struggle to know what is real any longer. The measuring we took for granted has been swept away by a great leveler.
Today I need to work at adjusting to all of the above numbers. Some will get bigger, others smaller, some will eventually disappear, but all are in some way descriptors of my current place in life. Not definers, unless I let them be, but descriptors.
I like numbers, probably because they are – at my level anyway – solid, consistent, explanatory. They let me know where I am.
I’m writing this while locked down at 31a, at S-36º 53’ 02.17” degrees, and 42m elevation. I’ve lived 25, 259 days so far (the app wouldn’t tell me how many more I had to go), been married to Robyn for 46 years, 10 months and 49 days (she won’t tell me how much longer I have to go).
Numbers let me, and you, know where I am but they have nothing to say about who I am. Even if I had some publically acceptable addiction and could declare the days I had been free, that would tell you only a little about who I was (and the delight or abhorrence you felt would tell yousomething about yourself).
In these days when we measure the tide of infections, deaths, and recoveries and find anxiety or hope hidden in the numbers, they still tell us nothing about ourselves.
But how I react to the numbers that surround and sometimes threaten to overwhelm my life, that tells me a lot about myself, about who I am. That reveals my heart. My true self. It can give you insight into my pilgrimage with the Trinitarian community of God by whom I am deeply loved and always welcome regardless of what my numbers are, and how I have allowed that to challenge and change me – or not.
The numbers for some people are horrific – all the calls to police mergency numbers in the first 90 minutes of Lockdown were for domestic violence cases, some people have lost 100% of their income for the foreseeable future. But the numbers alone don’t bring out the best or worst in anyone. Not every person who is doing it very tough spits at supermarket staff or abuses their local pharmacist, or steals a bike from a hospital bike rack.
Its not the numbers that bring out the best and the worst in any of us – its what we allow God to do with us that makes us different to each other and leads to our different responses.
I’ve discovered I am inconsistent. That is who I am. Inconsistent. Chisel it on my gravestone, “Inconsistent: he said he would be here by now and he isn’t”. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, and maybe if you know me you already knew that. I respond differently to different numbers, and differently to the same numbers at different times.
The first three numbers at the top of this page are in order of my growing anxiety levels. They are in reverse order of what I describe as my “becoming the person God created me to be” i.e. my “Being” levels.
My numbers mostly describe what I am doing or have done. I’ve come to underrstand that God couldn’t care less about any of that dross. Who I am becoming, my trajectory on the pilgrimage to becoming the person I was created to be, is all that God is interested in. And its that trajectory that brings me into a closer and deeper relationship with God; that draws me closer to those I love and are loved by; that brings me hope and delight and joy when there would be good reason to see neither.
So my numbers may be up (or down) – like my emotions on this difficult day – but I still am on the Way.