I had a missionary professor who spurned the pastoral care department as so much navel gazing saying that if we students go into missionary work we don’t need to take preoccupation with our Western hang-ups with us to superimpose them on an Eastern culture.
He was right about impositions; he was wrong about hang-ups. If we students were to spend the rest of our working lives caring for others, we would need to know as much as possible about how to care for ourselves through all the vicissitudes of life that would surely and inevitably come our way.
The Beatles may have meant drugs, but relationally speaking, we do get by with a little help from our friends and sometimes those friends, in a broader sense of that word, are the people who are trained to help with that introspection so we not only can survive but thrive in caring for ourselves and others.
We are at a time in our country’s history when we need all the self-knowledge, self-acceptance and I would even go so far as to say all the wisdom we may have accrued over the years not just to survive this trial but to thrive in integrity embracing our core values and living them for others.
So, it seems to me, we need to reflect on our past, conjure those saints and summon all the learning, nurturing, caring, clarifying moments that therapists, pastors, counselors and others facilitated for us and in us in our time of need and gather them all together renewing them in our heads, hearts, minds and spirits so that we will not be “beside ourselves” in this time as tempting as it is to cave and cower in fear, but will, in that integrated, whole self be equipped to meet the challenges of the moment. We need to give thanks for those who helped us recognize our dark side in the metaphor of a shadow and helped us come to terms with that shadow, befriend the shadow thus disarming our shadow so it doesn’t harm us or others.
For we all, this very moment, are struggling with what very well might be a time of national insanity and it is a time calling us to own personal integrity and claim the core values we inherited and made our own — love, morality, justice, mercy and peace — and stand in solidarity with those suffering and in non- violent resistance against all the lies of the present day principalities and powers.
St. Paul, using the metaphor of the armor of war, gave us the attributes necessary to stand against evil. Shed of the metaphor but with interpretation, St. Paul urges us to stand firm in non-violent resistance by clothing ourselves in the truth of Jesus’ self-sacrificial love for others, just living, peacemaking, faith in eternal, inclusive love for all people and the very creation itself, the saving knowledge that all will be redeemed and the word of life to speak that love in courage.