In Luke 12, Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives. That is hard for me. I think it is hard for anyone raised in the home of alcoholics or any parental dysfunction. There is a lot of abuse of children out there. Most of it out there is like mine -mild – and destructive – the mental and emotional abuse which comes simply from parents whose limitations so frustrated them that they bullied or ignored the only little things over which they thought they had some power. It is an old and common cycle, and it plays out in all kinds of family systems. But children who were raised in troubled homes by troubled people, end up either being troubled – sometimes even an abuser themselves or living, as I do, with a very high level of hypervigilence as a victim. “Am I ok? Who is out to manipulate me? Who can I trust? Who is going to take something from me? What do I have to do to create the world? What do I need to do to make the people around me happy? What do I need to do to impress people so that they do not hurt me? ”
I mention this not to curry sympathy, but to acknowledge how many billions of people exist in the world living this way. And of course they are all on various scales from low, medium to high pathology around their hyper-vigilence. Many of us have found counseling and manage it the way you manage alcoholism or migraines – one day at a time, making the next right choice. And many are undiagnosed – running around misusing power or being little victims, simply repeating the cycles and installing them in the next generations (Exodus 20:5; 34: 6,7; Deuteronomy 5:9).
And of course, the pathology in our society is only increased by the tendency of the victim archetypes generally seeking out and marrying or working for the major-general archetypes the same way the love-adicts tend to seek out the love-avoidants and vice versa (http://drjanicecaudill.com/love-addiction.html).
So when Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives, I sort of shrug with frustration. “Easy for you to say.” I secretly think. “Mary was your mother – a woman whose Magnificat tells me all I need to know to be sure she must have been lovely and kind. And any father who would marry a pregnant, unmarried woman in the first century had to be a wonderful and extraordinary man” I think. So forgive me if I roll my eyes like I do at the movies when I see set of super-parents and wonder why I did not get parents like them – centered, kind, present, self-offering, balanced, focused, and dedicated to helping their children feel well and cherished in early vulnerability.
I think I am not alone in this. I think many of us greet mother’s day or father’s day or both with an internal eye-roll of regret, envy and frustration. And in all fairness, perhaps exaggerate parental failings too.
So what do those of us do whose hyper-vigilence is our secret, invisible deformity? What do we do if we do worry about life – a lot? What if Jesus’ little request is hard?
I wonder if an antidote to hyper-vigilence – to worrying about life, is not simply as easy as intentional sabbath-making so that we can see that we are made good. Taking a few moments to rest so that we can harvest the cream of our hearts and offer it back to ourselves and the world as an act of non-violent subversion to cruelty and manipulation. Sabbath can be a day out, but it can also be a moment of peace making and internal awareness of the richness of our lives. For some of us, we can take a whole day to rest or a whole summer. For others, a single working mom -working three jobs and caring for young children – means that sabbath rest comes in 10-minute pieces. And for still others the “rest” they think they have in retirement or long-weekends or at summer houses is filled with work or sloth such that it becomes selfish and meaningless.
The British take time for 11;00’s and afternoon tea. The French take time for lunch. The Thai take time for two hour massages. The Haitians take time for walks and hold hands as they stroll that gorgeous land. Sometimes a glass of wine or a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam or a walk with a friend or healing touch is just enough silence to become aware that worry is folly – just enough time to know that life will change and that worrying about change will only hemorrhage our energy – the very same energy we need to face that change and that awareness of the cream of our hearts rather than the skim-milk of our hearts.
Biting into a scone with clotted cream and jam is a simple act of awareness and rest. It is subversive to a society which takes its worth from work. It is a sacrament of its own. And it is the one I chose today – my own stewardship – today. Ten minutes of deliciousness and my soul has been adjusted. It won’t make me a perfect person. It won’t protect me from bullies or manipulators. But what it will do is slow me down enough to see them. Perhaps the key to not worrying is simply knowing what is what, and taking the time to do so.