Like I wrote yesterday, I love when different things come together with a similar message. In addition to the daily readings, I am also reading Sister Joan Chittister’s book The Monastic Heart. In the chapter I read this morning, she was writing about the Benedictine practices of communal and individual prayer. Within what she writes is a message about the necessity of community for us for guidance, hope, and direction. She writes:
The point is that having a spiritual community whose ways are clear and whose response is regular is essential. Coming to know the spiritual tradition, to wrestle with it together, to see it modeled, and so finally, over the years, to embrace it is one of the greatest gifts of community life. Without a spiritual community to be called by, to be carried by when you yourself have no energy, no interest whatsoever in pursuing a spiritual regimen, you are adrift at sea. Without a compass, without a sextant, without the sight of the rising sun, you will find yourself in the darkest moments of life, in the darkness that comes with lack of support and loss of direction.Chittister, Joan. The Monastic Heart (pp. 43-44). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Another way of putting this is that we need others to lift us up as we can’t do it alone. The stories from Exodus 17 and 18 illustrate this as well. In a battle against the Amalekites, Moses needs others to hold his arms up so that the Hebrews would not be defeated – the was only so long he could hold them up on his own. And then in the story that follows, his father-in-law directs Moses that the job of directing and “judging” the people cannot be done only on his own but instead he needs to share that responsibility in order for the work to be done. This needs to happen not only for Moses’ benefit but it benefits the whole of the people.
As much as we love to focus on our own “rugged individualism”, we cannot do this thing called life alone. No matter how strong we think we each are, we need others to lift us up, to hold our arms up when we cannot do it ourselves and to spread out the work that we cannot do solely on our own. I am grateful for people in my life who help me along that path. My wife, my family, groups of colleagues, and others.
Yesterday, I was helping my wife with her Doctoral of Ministry project with some of the formatting of the paper and I got to read her dedications at the beginning (I’ve blurred those lines out in the photo) but each one had the sense of others who helped lift her up not only in this project but in her life.
She needs others. I need others. We all need others.
For whom can you be the one to lift their arms?