May 14, 2020
“Aiming Higher Than Blame”
By Pastor Jason Duley
The other morning, I was walking around a pond near a local school. It was quiet and early and no one was in sight. As the brush cleared and the water came into view, a Great White Egret launched into flight about twenty feet from me. This bird was impressive as it rose gracefully into the sky, with a wingspan of at least four feet. I watched as it flew higher and higher, until it disappeared from sight.
It was so high!
I started to think about raising my own sights, going higher in my mind. You see, I notice a trend in the news lately. It’s to go lower. As we look at current events, there’s a human tendency to lower our view in terms of talking about people. When we encounter bad news, we look for someone to blame.
Great herons and egrets are common in our region. What a blessing.
I know Christians don’t get a pass here. After all, it started in the garden of Eden with a certain apple scandal. We blame our forebears for original sin. But it repeats. I hear it today with allegations of who is to blame in this global pandemic.
You can blame the Chinese government. You can blame our government…state, federal or local. But it’s a short walk from “governments” to people. So looking at people, you can cast stones at politicians. Or those who want to go back to work. Or you can shake a fist at others for being overly cautious. You can blame whichever “side” you are not on. Now, I won’t say that there is right on only one side of any of these arguments. But…why are we drawing up sides?
Really. Do we have to blame people…for a virus? I’m grateful sometimes that God made germs invisible. Imagine if we emitted a purple fog whenever we coughed. Yuck! We’d constantly be following a trail to find out who was “responsible” for various illnesses. And the result might not be great in terms of treating people decently.
You get a different view of things when you rise above fear and blame. (Aerial photos of our church and community by Becca Aitkens).
On a podcast recently, I heard an interview with a psychiatrist who explained the meaning of blame. Underneath this normal human response is often a wellspring of personal fear. Reacting out of fear, and a sense of a loss of control, we make ourselves feel more in control by lashing out and judging others. Could that be true?
If so, that judge’s seat is not really a helpful or hopeful place to be.
When I feel fear, anxiety, or helplessness (which we all do from time to time), I think about what Jesus said when he said, “Consider the lilies…” Jesus invites me to understand the condition of the natural world, including flowers and the birds. There are so many beautiful varieties of wild life, like my egret, and none of them are taxed with anxiety about disease or what the future will bring. Nor do they spend a second blaming others. Instead, they soar through the sky or they color the fields with their beautiful and harmonious splendor.
No doubt I was to blame personally for scaring the egret out of his morning quietude. But he did not stoop to react with emotional weaponry. Rather, his nature led him higher.
I wonder what we might learn from letting go of the low road of angry fingerpointing, choosing instead the higher way.
Email me to let me know what road you’re on today. It’s important to remain connected, we’re all in this together.
Praying for the Healing of the Nations