Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I am a teacher. One of my favorite people to teach is the little children, beginning with mine, whom I joyfully teach God’s Word or maybe I should better say Catechism because we cover the broad length that is the doctrines of our faith. In these setting we have narrowed down our definition of SIN as follows:
Teacher/Leader: What is SIN?
All in unison:
SIN is anything you think (touching the head and shaking it small small);
anything you hear (wiggling our ears),
anything you see (touching our eyes),
anything you smell (pinching our noses small small),
anything you eat (moving our fingers towards our open mouths),
anything you say (flapping our fingers next to the mouth),
anything you touch (wiggling our hands),
anywhere you go (marching/stomping with our feet)
that does not please God!
It is always such a fun way of learning, raising questions and curiosity, exploring and discussing the weighty matter that is sin. And since sin has beguiled humanity since the fall in Genesis 3, this definition is one that is recurring in my conversations with children.
When I reflect on the last couple of months and what life has wrought my way, I realized how lightly I am moving through life presently. This has not come easy for me, but through a continuous, almost seeming unending, pulling of the bottom from below me. Every time I thought I had hit the bottom, it gave in and I fell even lower. Through this not very welcome, but in hindsight very formative experiences so much ‘weight’ has fallen off me; ideas, views, opinions, ‘friends’, earthly possessions, titles.
As the weight has fallen off, I have also become deeply aware off and resonated with the cloud of witnesses that surround me – some new, and some of whom have surrounded me all along but the weight I carried could not allow me to look up and see. David is the Psalms has become such a witness for me. I have read, chanted, cried through loads and loads of Psalms in the past couple of months. I have deeply identified with him as he mourns the betrayal of Ahithophel, as he cries to God for justice and asks and doubts and believes in the same breathe. I have identified with so many women of the Bible (I really do need to get to work on a series in my head on this someday), not necessarily the well know women, but the nondescript women, those at the fringes, the ones that are not frequently spoken of. And as always my late grandmother Sarah and my late dear friend Wilson’s words, prayers, friendship and love have cushioned me in the days of darkness.
Life is a beautiful thing, a gift indeed from the Divine. Yet because we live this beautiful gift in a broken world, it can easily get chocked, poked, bleeding and drained of its very essence. The weight of it all can slowly cling onto the human soul and become a burden one is unable to bear, a burden that can bend and break, a burden that can cause one to never be able to look up the ever shining Light leave alone the cloud of witnesses. One of the ways I shed off this weight is through reading. Reading connects me with my humanity and the collective humanity of the world in the past, present and future. Reading also gives me a language to express myself, my sorrow, my pain, my thoughts, my desires, my ambitions, my longings.
I recently met a man through his writing and I am still ruminating on the plain truths he laid out in a simple yet still complex way. His name is Howard Thurman and the book in reference is ‘Jesus and the Disinherited’. I will soon write about the space in which I met this man, because it provided such a healthy and healing setting to journey with Thurman. In this book Thurman presents Jesus as a disinherited man from Nazareth, from birth up to his death on a wooden cross, outside the city gates like a common criminal. As one who has and continues to be ‘disinherited’ in myriad ways, I really identified with this Jesus. And he is the same one I am to look up to as I ran my race. I am really grateful that God became man. That he felt the full force of the brokenness of the world. That he felt the weight that so easily latches on a human soul. That he saw sin and how it steals, kills and destroys the beauty that is life. That he made it through and stayed true. Thurman calls this ‘liberating spirituality’. When fear, hatred and deception do not take root in the heart of the disinherited and they instead choose the way of love – redeeming love. Redeeming love as a love that embraces Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 in all its fulness. An aware, alive, flaming love.
I am walking lighter at 37. Grateful for God’s Providence and Hesed that has carried me to this day and continues to uphold me. I am walking light aware, open, receptive, discerning. I am walking light actively and consciously refusing to have any weight or sin cling to my soul. I am walking light in communion with the Divine. I am walking light in community. I am walking light in love.