In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo laments to Gandalf about having to carry the ring of power. He tells the grey wizard:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Fear and unrest have been growing in our country for a long time, darkness choking out the light. Now we’ve elected a leader whose popularity seems based on fear, anger, frustration and hopelessness. And it will not do to react to his election with more of the same.
Jess and I thought hard about how to respond to this mess. Gandalf’s implied question is a good one: “What will we do to the time that has been given to us?”
Jess told me that she went to church yesterday, and as she sat before the body of Christ in the monstrance, she thought to herself, “I need to be more like Dorothy Day. I’m not doing enough.” The thought made her burst out laughing, and she’s convinced that laughter was somehow from God. She’s clearly not Dorothy Day. She’s Jess. And I’m Jonathan. And we can only work to be who God created us to be, playing our small roles in the Great War against the dark, and playing them faithfully. Maybe we’re only the comic relief on the journey to Mordor and back. But we’re going to stay the course.
To be honest, when I first wrote this post, it was much angrier. Self righteousness is a deadly drug, and I was full of it last night when I watched the election results. Fury is not too strong a word. I wanted to start a revolution. I especially wanted to kick my fellow Catholics and Christians who rejoiced over the combed-over devil’s victory thinking it will somehow save the unborn, when I suspect it will lead to the suffering of countless others. There is a reason my fellow Sick Pilgrims call me “War.”
But if I really believe in mercy, love and compassion, I need to show it to the people I think least deserve it. Because, in turn, mercy will be shown to me, who least deserves it.
As for Sick Pilgrim, we’re going to keep being what we are: a refuge for the spiritually broken, the sad, the suffering, the sick and the lame. We’re going to keep searching for truth and the mystery of the divine at work in a broken world. We’re going to continue to be the rest stop for wayfarers who feel like they don’t fit in anywhere else–just like we set out to be back in January when we launched. We’re not going to be a place of Anti-Trump rabble rousing. Instead, we’re going to try to follow the way of mercy. And we’re going to continue to invite others to stay on this journey with us.In addition to the blog, we’ve started a community page on Facebook to support each other on the journey. We share our fears, worries, and questions there. We ask for advice, support and correction. We pray for each other and try to ease each other’s burdens, if only by sharing the load. It’s a closed group, but if you want to be added, just let us know. We are committed to maintaining a tone of compassion and respect for everyone who joins–but so far, this hasn’t been an issue at all. Most of us just seem really grateful to have found some fellow travelers.
The reality is, we probably won’t change the world with what we are doing. We’re not revolutionaries. At best, we’re hoping to be caregivers in Pope Francis’s hospital. Or, to keep with the Tolkien analogy, we’re Rivendell, the last homely house in a world full of darkness. You can come here, have a pint, sing, tell stories, get counsel, give counsel, rest, and be nursed back to health for whatever God has called you to do and to be.
We know there are a lot of people who are afraid and grieving this morning. We’re grieving too. But it was sadness, depression and desperation that may have encouraged many of those votes for Trump. It was feeling unheard, unseen, and scorned. (In many ways, I get it. I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life. Jess is from the Deep South. We’ve felt the snobbery and dismissiveness of people on the coasts. We don’t want to be those people.) When humans feel unseen and unheard, it leads to desperation and fear. And when we’re afraid, we might reach for anything to save us, even, apparently, a badly tanned snake in the grass.
See, I’m still angry. Work in progress.
But I want Sick Pilgrim to be an antidote to fear and misdirected anger. Not partisan, but truth seeking. A place of true companionship and witness. Yes, we’re sad, and we will continue to mourn with those who mourn. But we’ll also keep doing our work in the time that God has given us. That work may not be important. It may not, probably will not, change the world. But, it’s our work to do. And we will try to do it with peace, hope, love, joy, patience, gentleness, humility and self control.
Travel with us, won’t you?