I realize as I place fingers to keyboard that this, February 12th, 2021, is the 212th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. I am a deep admirer of Abraham Lincoln, the man about whom I have read myriad biographies and histories and critical pieces. His life, and his time as President of this country, as depicted by so many writers–historians, biographers, civilization studiers, sociologists, psychologists, novelists, political pundits, students, honorers, dishonorers, reporters, probably gossip columnists, maybe congregation leaders–has uncountable versions. Which are accurate? Which are true? Is there a difference between accurate and true?
What comes through as I read the variety of accounts, is that he kept learning, and kept applying what he learned to his life and to his responsibilities. Sometimes the lessons he latched onto may have been ones to not have taken, and sometimes he reversed a stand he had held, and sometimes he dug in his heels, and maybe that was good, and other times, maybe it was not the right choice. Me too.
We have had an abundance of opportunities to make impactful decisions in the way we pursue even our thoughts, as well as our words and our acts, in our lives, and especially in our recent pasts and in our present. Decisions that affect ourselves, our neighbors (by that I mean all creation, down to the diatom, down to the nanobe, down to the nucleic acid) , our relations, and a future. May we pause, often, and listen, feel, see, smell, taste, cry, smile, consider the paying forward of our way of being and having our life, consider the wake that we follow and how it has or could or will or won’t direct the shape of our own way, consider the wake beside the one we follow, the wake that someone else or something else is following and how each impacts the other.
The number of times that I think I am absolutely right but am shown otherwise in toto or in part, or discover myself the flaw in Kate’s rightness, the number of times is embarrassing. The number of those times that I am ready to curl up and not acknowledge, I don’t want to count. The number of opportunities not to curl up and not to not acknowledge, thankfully, are at least as many.
There’s a parable told in the Bible by Jesus, in the book of Luke, about a widow who had a request of a judge, who would not listen to her. I’m not too happy with her request, she is seeking revenge. But to this part of the story–She persisted and finally he listened and acted on her request. Her persistence had worn him down. Lots of interpretations are presented for this parable. Today, at this moment I see from it that persistence. In the face of–in the face of odds placed before me by my gender, my faith, my age, my place of dwelling, my previous choices–individually and in accumulation, my attitudes, my inabilities, my self, my conformance, my nonconformance, my neighbors, my fears–I can persist in seeing where I am wrong, again, and then seeking advice, example, help, attention, patience, so that I might, this time, get it right.
That’s it for today. Thank you for reading all the way through.
“Th’ abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.”
Brutus in Julius Caesar (2.1.19-20)