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Lectionary Living

Epiphanies Happen!

(1/10) Genesis 1:1-5  •  Psalm 29  •  Acts 19:1-7  •  Mark 1:4-11

    It's a very odd thing, this week's Mark reading. Jesus is being baptized, the heavens are opening, and a voice is coming from the heavens. Oh and something like a dove descended on Jesus. Only, scholars are not sure who saw and heard this. After careful analysis of the scripture, they can't tell if Mark meant that it was everyone in the crowd, or maybe only a few people. Or maybe Jesus alone had this experience and reported it back to others.         

    Then as now, chances are good that more is happening than most of us are noticing. Not that if one could pay attention, he would see the heavens opening on a regular basis! Or maybe he would, who knows? At any rate, what gets in the way of noticing more is worth considering.

    A chief culprit here is anxiety. Somehow the tension in a system draws a person in to focus on one thing or another. A worry may cause a person to miss a beautiful sunset off in the distance, or a chance to connect with another person, or a chance to meet the goals for the day. Besides distracting, worry can also absorb energy. The time spent fussing over a problem, who's to blame and what's to be done, can take away any enthusiasm for a project. When anxiety takes over, the energy to pay attention seems to get drained from the system.

    I've heard it said that one antidote to anxiety is curiosity. Not curiosity as prying behavior, but curiosity as an inquiring mind. Taking today's gospel reading, consider those in attendance that day. John's baptism was a baptism 'of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.' Repentance itself can go at least two ways. One way is the honest, forthright sorting out of one's own immaturity: noted and then dispatched. The other involves a curving in upon oneself in an endless preoccupation that is its own sin. The crowd gathered that day around John the Baptist could have been so focused on confession that they lost all interest in what was happening around Jesus, right before their eyes. If so, their own miserable lives were interfering with their capacity to behold a story still being told, 2000 years later!

    People have a limited ability to see what's happening around them. About a dozen years ago, when I was looking for a new job, the "ability to multitask" was on every job description. Now, the idea of multitasking has been debunked. In everyday life, a person does have to choose what to attend to. More than that, what one sees is constrained by one's previous experiences in life. A person sees what they expect to see.

    The ability to see a bigger picture, to notice more sides of what's happening in any moment, can be cultivated over time. A bigger perspective increases one's own awareness of the depth of life and one's own options within it. Epiphanies happen!

    A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Utah with dear friends. It was October and the aspens were gorgeous. My friends showed me how the trees are connected through underground root systems and how one could tell from the leaf colors which family, so to speak, each tree belonged to. This was unexpected information! I looked at the mountains again, with more perspective. The thought of those trees connected through various root systems made more sense of the whole view. Not at the 'heavens opened, and a dove descended' level; still, it provided an insight that has added to my life. In my experience, it's friends and colleagues and family members and bloggers and blog readers, all of us who open each other's eyes to what we can't see. And so I close today with thankfulness for you, dear reader!


Morning: What am I worried about? How could more curiosity help?

Evening: Where did I see a bigger view today?

Psalm 29:11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

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