As we edge closer and closer to the 500th post on this blog, I am re-purposing a few posts that appeared in the very beginning. This one was first published on December 9, 2012.
Random Noodling #1: I was listening to a discussion about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel this morning on the NPR show On Being. The host of the show, Krista Tippett, played a 1972 NBC interview with Rabbi Heschel in which he said, “The meaning of life is to live life as if we are a work of art.”
What would it mean, I wonder, to live as if we were a piece of art? Are we to be a thing of beauty in a world that is often disgusting and ugly? Are we to be a portrait created by the Master? Are we to be a lilting melody floating joyfully in the cacophony of jarring noise surrounding us? Are we to dance effortlessly through the crowds of humanity which are pushing and shoving to get to the prize? Are we to be a book of wisdom and grace read by those who are yearning to find their way? What work of art are you meant to be?
Random Noodling#2: Another wonderful quote from Heschel during this program was: “Some are guilty, while all are responsible.” What extraordinary release from the paralyzing and unproductive guilt we feel about the hunger in the world, for example, while we enjoy a holiday dinner! And yet he does not let us off the hook! We must do we as we are called to relieve suffering and pain and provide dignity and freedom. I suppose it is one of the major purposes of our journey to determine when we need to assume guilt and when we are to bear responsibility.
Random Noodling #3: Reading Isaiah 40 several times recently, I was brought up short by verse 4 (a great lectio divina moment!): “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” I don’t think I ever saw the movement in this verses before: valleys are lifted, mountains are lowered, uneven ground is leveled and rough land is smoothed. In other words, Isaiah saw the coming of a world where everything would be turned upside down. It reminded me of the words of Jesus: “Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last” (Luke 13:30) and “For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest” (Luke 9:48).