I’m experiencing a sort of reading nirvana right now. I truly believe the right book arrives at the right time. At least, it’s been my own experience. I’m currently reading several books: one about the Bible, one by a Buddhist nun and several books about Islam. Honestly, the ways they weave together and overlap is nothing short of holy. I’m having divine encounters each and every time I drink in words, lately. I keep taking off my shoes and watching for burning bushes. It’s amazing.
(This is the part where you either decide I’ve completely lost my mind, or you’re sticking with me forever. Bless you, whichever way you choose.)
Anyway, one of the ideas I encountered today was the necessity of relearning to be human. It began with the context of the Jewish people leaving Egypt and wandering out into the wilderness after centuries of slavery. I can’t think of anything more dehumanizing than human slavery, can you? Anyway, the reason the Mosaic law, and especially the Big Ten came into being was to help remind the Israelites how to be humans in community. When you leave a place where your life is defined by an utter lack of control, boundaries, and inherent worth, you lose part of what makes you a compassionate, empathetic human being. It isn’t intentional; it’s survival.
And freedom, when it comes, if it comes, can be so overwhelming, you either shut down or glut yourself on it until you explode. We need guidance. We need a framework to show us how to live well and fully without exploiting our new found power and responsibility. It’s no simple thing to be free, not if we want to do it well.
Enter some rules. Given not to bind people up again, but to guide people along a path of life. This is the way, walk in it, the guidelines say. Not with whips and threats of harm, but with smiles and open arms of welcome. This is life. This is love. Follow me.
Because we are free, it is up to us whether or not we listen to the Divine voice in our souls. All of us have it, but sometimes we forget. We need reminders of how to be human. Or maybe we’ve believed the lie that humanity is wicked, untrustworthy and despised and so we no longer wish to be human at all, loving or otherwise. We set our eyes entirely on eternity and try to push the world away, out of sight, out of mind.
But you know, I don’t believe this is true of humanity. Certainly, Jesus did not despise himself or his companions, or the world as he walked in it. No, He loved. And when we’d forgotten the nature of the Divine who has always, always been singing us down the path of Life even since before time, Jesus came to remind us again. How to be human. How to live life, fully.
I’ve written a great deal these last three months about recovery and deconstruction and all the wounds and ways of healing I’ve encountered along the way. I’m relearning how to be human too. Sometimes it’s felt narrow and private, cold and lonely. But it’s bigger now, more like standing in a field in the pouring rain, arms open and face tilted to the sky. It’s wild and welcoming, and a little bit crazy. But it’s alive and oh so sweet and powerful as well.
I remember. I am reconstructing. May I not forget again.
Ten Guideposts for being more human
- I will remember to seek the Divine
- I will seek to be in the moment without numbing or distraction
- I will love humanity as it is, not as I would have it.
- I will speak kindly of all people
- I will rest
- I will act lovingly to family, friends, neighbors, and strangers
- I will honor life
- I will love and enjoy my marriage
- I will hold what is mine loosely and share generously
- My yes will be yes and my no will be no
- I will remember that everyone is living a beautiful and difficult story