Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vanity of vanities!

This week's bulletin letter: "Vanity of vanities!"

Wouldn't it be nice?

This past Saturday was the second anniversary of the dedication of the shrine church at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe located just south of La Crosse. As I sat looking around at the great beauty of this church I couldn’t help but think about all of the grace that has flowed out from that place. So many have been comforted in tragedy, renewed and invigorated in faith, given hope in adversity. There have even been miracles reported.

So this got me thinking about how hard some people fought to keep this shrine from being errected and how many more have been bad mouthing it over the years. This brings me to my central question for reflection: Why is it that we, as a culture, waste so much time and effort tearing down or bad-mouthing others? We don’t just voice disagreement with the ideas, efforts or decisions of others. More and more we get intensely personal about it. We assign bad intentions to their efforts and decisions.

We seem to trade in bad news in a way that sometimes makes me feel like we are wallowing in used motor oil. More than once I’ve had people tell me that if I want to know what people are saying I should just ask them since they hear all the gossip.

I don’t want to know! I’m not burying my head in the sand. I know the gossip is out there but I refuse to get drawn into the game. As my dad always used to say, “You can’t fly with the eagles when you are trudging about with the turkeys”. Besides, if the people who are talking really loved me, cared about being good Christians, or wanted their community to be its best they would talk to me directly.

But what REALLY makes me shake my head is people who feel the need to comment on things that don’t even affect them. For instance, if you don’t like some privately funded project then why get so worked up about it? Don’t contribute if you don’t like or agree with it! Don’t join if you disagree with how that particular group sees the world or operates!

I would love to live in a community where people accentuate the positive. If you don’t like it, leave it alone. This assumes, of course, that it is an issue which is morally neutral and doesn’t affect the community at large.

Wouldn’t it be fun to live in a community where people refrained from commenting on that about which they know nothing or have information that is incomplete? Wouldn’t it be great if we spent more time “gossiping” about the good things in our community? And when the negative does come up we would discuss it with an eye towards what we can do to make things better for those involved? Wouldn’t it be totally cool if we could be as interested in, and kind to the person with whom we disagree as we are to the person with whom we agree completely?

Join the revolution! Speak the truth in love. Do the good. Think the best of those you meet. Build positive relationships by getting to know those around you personally. Know and care as much about what is going on on the other side of town as you do about what is going on on the other side of the world. In other words: Love your neighbor, and walk humbly with God. Just a thought!