Making room for change
July 30, 2006
As you know by now, I just moved with my kids to Texas from California.
We got here about 2 1/2 weeks ago. Knowing that the kids need stability in order to thrive- the stability of routine, friendships, community, and- well, just fun that I can’t provide while unpacking a house of stuff, I enrolled them in summer camp the first week we were here.
My 6 year old son also is preparing to register for school this coming week, and we’ve been discussing what to do about after-school care in the fall. When we discussed it the first week we were here, he said he didn’t want to stay in the place where he is having summer camp (one of the options is to come back to that place for after school care).
Friday, my parents and I went to the summer camp for the “Closing Ceremonies” of the “Summer Olympics” of camp- really very creative and cute. I got to watch him, as part of the host country of Japan, perform a martial arts dance routine to the 80s song “I think I’m turning Japanese” before they handed out all the medals for the awards.
Apparently, something has changed over these two weeks. He overheard my mom and I discussing his placement on waiting lists at some of the other options for after-school care. Later that evening, when nobody else was around he said to me, “Poppa, I want to stay where I am for after-school care.”
Something has shifted. He’s gone from a place of discomfort to a place of comfort in his “camp.”
That happens with so many things when we move- or with anything that is new or changed. At first, it seems to be strange; we don’t like it; it may even hurt. Slowly, though, the discomfort fades. And eventually, it becomes ingrained in our lives, if we are open to it, and we can’t picture ourselves without the “new” thing.
That is true at both the individual level and the collective level.
We once thought that kings and queens were divinely appointed and that we couldn’t or shouldn’t question their rule. At least in the USA, we find that concept pretty ridiculous. (OK, maybe the current president thinks he was divinely appointed and should be allowed complete control, but that’s different… )
Imagine how painful it was to have the Bible available in our local languages. People were burned at the stake for translating it. Now, though, can you imagine having it only available in Latin?
It was abhorrent at one time to think that women should vote. Now, it is abhorrent to think that they shouldn’t- even abhorrent to think that they shouldn’t be running for the offices we’re voting for.
We once thought nothing about bring boatloads of people over from their native countries only to put them to work as slaves here and basing entire economies off of their labor. We now find that practice completely immoral.
Of course we could go on and on- history is full of change. And the history books are primarily filled with the points at which we realize that we are setting a new direction, because that is when there is conflict.
That is when some of us are ready to say, “Yes, I’m ready to stay a while, I like this new place” but some of us are still saying, “No, I like the old place better. I want to either go back or try to recreate it.” And unfortunately, some folks on either side feel so passionately they will do anything to assert their position.
In almost every single case I’ve mentioned, and probably in just about every single case in history, Holy Scripture has been used on both sides of the argument. That’s the beauty of Holy Scripture- it is timeless and it doesn’t take sides. People may think it does, but looking at the big picture, it really doesn’t. It is neither reappraiser, nor reasserter- neither progressive, nor traditionalist.
I believe what is most important in these times of change is not to become so passionate about our views, one way or the other, that we start doing anything to assert our position, but that we give our views time to work themselves out. For every case we list where change did take place, there are probably 100 or so that didn’t end up taking hold. The ones that do are genuine- I believe they are from the spirit.
That doesn’t mean we just sit back and relax. It means we work diligently to understand, to dialogue, and to hear each other. We keep plowing forward- not with an axe, hatching down whatever is in our way, but instead with careful navigation, ensuring that the trees are left standing.
In the end, the Spirit’s work is done. We have to let go of our fear that the Spirit may lead us not to the place where we want to be, but somewhere else.