One afternoon I got a "friend" request from someone on Facebook. I did not recognize the name, for a variety of reasons, one of which was the name was written in Chinese script. I saw that we had one friend in common, another missionary friend of mine from 30 years ago when I lived in Japan. Still, I really did not recognize the name. I couldn't pronounce the name. I no longer read Japanese.
So, I sent this person a message, asking them, "Are you one of my former students from Japan?"
It was probably one of those Internet memes that flits about the ether, and gradually enters the aggregate stream of quotes and pop inspiration that we collectively contribute to and maintain. This one, however, had the ring of truth to it. I don’t know the source, but it was something to this effect:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
I’m not one who has any natural inclination to vulnerability, but the suggestions I read that clergy vulnerability should be exercised in the pulpit of all places really make me cringe. I’ve asked Carol Howard Merritt for her thoughts on vulnerability as an element of clergy self-care.
It feels to me like evil is hovering over the prison in the form of a government ready to kill a woman who prayed with me when my father was dying of cancer. There isn't a thing I can do about it except pray this psalm and damn if we can't get it right.
According to Jesus, chances are good that there's not going to be much left of us once we've admitted to just how often stumbling blocks stand in our way. Whether others put them there or we find ways to place them ourselves, they trip us up, keep us from moving forward, get us off track.