LENT: Awe

Anti-Gang Groups-Bailout

One dictionary definition of the word awe is “wonder, but with more reverence.”  If you have an hour or so this week, please consider watching this interview with Greg Boyle. Boyle is a Jesuit priest, founder of Homeboy Industries, author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and works with gang members in East Los Angeles.  It would take several listens to glean all the insight from this interview, which ranges from inspirational stories about individuals he has met to the church’s role in the world and potential contribution at this stage in history.  He was particularly moving when he likened the serious struggles of some of the young people he knows to the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. The link was awe.

We often hear this familiar story of the early church as a sweet and inspiring description of a Utopian moment from long ago. Boyle studied it as an actual measure of the health of any community – that they “take care of each other,” “no one goes hungry,” etc.  When he came upon the phrase, “and awe came upon everyone,” a real light went on. What if, he asked, the measure of our compassion lies not in our service to those on the margins but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship? How can we seek a compassion that can stand in awe at what people have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it?

We have known this feeling on occasion, and it is as good as it is rare.  The defensive, overly-stressed version of ourselves wants everyone to please just behave themselves and for the world to shape up in general. We’re quick to judge what is wrong on all sides of any situation. But there are moments of grace – unwarranted and unexpected – when the curtain is drawn and we see things a little more truly as they are, or at least might be in a Divine Mother’s eyes.  Then we feel it: kinship – the recognition that we are actually brothers and sisters, and  awe at the resilience in others instead of recoil from the brokenness.

-Kelli

{image: from Kevin & Linds}

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Posted on 02/26/2013, in LENT and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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