The Unexamined Life
The trouble with schools is
They always try to teach the wrong lesson
Believe me, I’ve been kicked out
Of enough of them to know
They want you to become less callow
But I say: Why invite stress in?
Stop studying strife
And learn to live “the unexamined life”
Dancing through life
Skimming the surface
Gliding where turf is smooth
Life’s more painless
For the brainless
Why think too hard
When it’s so soothing?
Dancing through life
No need to tough it
When you can slough it off as I do
But knowing nothing matters
It’s just life
So keep dancing through…
Dancing through life
Swaying and sweeping
And always keeping cool
Life is fraught less
When you’re thoughtless
Those who don’t try
Never look foolish
Dancing through life
Mindless and careless
Make sure you’re where less
Trouble in life
Woes are fleeting
Blows are glancing
When you’re dancing
Wicked – Dancing Through Life Lyrics
One of my favorite Broadway Musicals is Wicked a prequel to The Wizard of OZ. Surprisingly there were many great life lessons threading through the performance. This song is sung by the handsome hunk and soon to be brainless strawman better known as Scarecrow.
Fiyero wanted to skim the surface of life focusing only on fun. As I listened to this song I realized that it isn’t just shallow people that live an unexamined life. We can be committed Christians living a sacrificial life for the Gospel and still be living an unexamined life. The Fiyero’s of this world along with those of us who have committed our lives to a business that does not allow time for reflection are living in the shallows of life.
You’ve heard the words till you are tired of them ‘doing versus being.’ You have probably met couples who keep busy so that they don’t need to look at their marriage, they keep their children busy so that they don’t actually have to parent or have difficult conversations. There are those who have wounds that have not healed because they keep busy and just don’t go there “because it hurts.” Then there are those who substitute good works, dedication and sacrifice because duty feels safer and more in control than devotion and transformation.
An examined life is a life in all its messiness is offered on the altar and echoes the words of Paul in Philippians 1:2. “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” To live is to open our hearts, mind, body and soul to the gaze of the Holy Spirit, then ourselves and to someone we trust. It is being willing to let go of fears, insecurities, jealousies, bitterness and control to grasp hold of the opportunities to be changed and transformed; to be more like Christ. To die is to let go of the chains of fear that hold us hostage to destructive thinking and actions. It is standing on the words of Isaiah 12:2 TLB.
“I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord is my strength and song; he is my salvation.”
Fiyero, the man that was dancing through life became human when he was turned into a strawman to save his life. While the superficiality of his looks and pursuits were wiped away in his transformation he became a man of conviction, capable of sacrificial love and living a purposeful life.
You and me, not superman or superwoman or super Christian, just human, designed by God, infilled with the Spirit, flawed but not forsaken, broken but not beaten, transforming and transcendent on a journey of becoming. Look deeply into yourself, your attitudes, your actions, your feelings with the power of the Holy Spirit and He will lead you into a life of joy, peace and contentment. Find a safe person like a Spiritual Director who can help you become aware of the unexamined areas of your life. Find a spiritual friend who will meet with you and with shared desire for all there is of Christ begin to explore the examined life. You will be glad you did. It is the place of freedom and resurrection power.
My life flashed before my eyes as the car hit a spin and went tumbling over the ditch to land on the roof. I don’t remember most of it but I remember thinking as a young adult “what will I tell my dad?” New experiences always tell us something about ourselves and our relationships. I knew my dad would be upset, concerned and just a little bit judgmental. I didn’t need to worry about how Jesus would react I knew that He was with me.
The word cancer loses all objectivity when it is you the Doctor is looking at. As I have reflected on this journey I became aware of some startling insights. Hearing the news was like being in suspended animation while a speeding bullet comes at you in slow motion but is none the less aimed straight at your head.
I want to be a woman of faith and believe that I do walk by faith but faith does not eliminate the need to process and to enter the valley of sorrow and loss. Sometimes the only faith we have is that if we explore our pain that the Spirit will heal and restore. It’s a beautiful thing when that happens. Nothing is changed except our hearts have been transformed.
I did wonder, given my old ways of being, if I was doing a “Pollyanna” with the cancer. Leaping to a place of faith and trust because that is how a Christian is supposed to respond to struggles in life. I have to say that I have found myself in this curious place of waiting. It has felt like I am neither going forward or backward, I just am. Am I in denial? Have I shut down? Is it faith?
All these questions have gone through my mind and I find myself in a place of mustard seed faith. I am resting in Him, held by Him in a way that I don’t need to do anything or worry about anything. It is a strange place in it’s completeness and serenity. Scripture tells us that He is our shield and our strength and I feel so transfused by his transcendence that I don’t know where He begins and I end. It all feels like me as I rest in Him.
Yah, the bullet is still there but as I rest in Him, He is equipping me for whatever comes my way.
May it be so with you.
In Quietness and Confidence is our Strength. Isaiah 30:15
Why Not Me
Why me is a question I often ask myself. Why has my life been so blessed? If my life were a picture it would be a rustic prairie scene where the longer you looked at it the more beautiful it would become. Like you I have had my share of heartbreak and times when I haven’t known what the next moment would hold. Those are the broken and abandoned bits in my picture that can easily be seen. Beyond the landscape of my turmoil I have often been witness to someone who was going through even greater sorrow. At these times, I have been thankful that God had equipped me for the burdens I must carry while I cannot imagine bearing up under the burdens that I see others having to bear. My picture always has a transcendent light that bathes my joy and my pain in glorious colour and reveals a spaciousness that I cannot always see in the moment. My landscape is also framed by God’s providential care and I see the fingerprints from his touch demonstrating that He was active even before I knew I would need him. I am blessed because he is a good, good Father and he loves me.
I was privileged to attended a post- surgery cancer support group. I came away amazed at the resiliency of the people there. I was also burdened for a young girl about 20 who is faced with a radical double mastectomy and another young woman who was declared stage four, terminal and therefore not urgent. Why not me is a rhetorical question that comes to me at these times. It is rhetorical because there is no answer this side of eternity.
Why me? Why is my life so much easier than the lives of so many? I know for a fact it isn’t because I am better or that I deserve it. I can’t for a moment imagine that it is because God loves me more than these others because that would not make Him a good, good Father! I think, it is what it is. What I do know is “that to those who have been given much, much is required.” (Luke 12:48) Those who are blessed are meant to live their lives blessing others. To move beyond self- interest, preferences and limitations to give support, comfort and aid to the whosoever of those who are burdened. We have the opportunity to be the light in the landscapes of the lives of others. This is our privilege, to be as Christ to others knowing that the time will come when we will need the blessing of others in our life. I am reminded of the words in Colossians 3 which says “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the Father through him.”
Recognizing how we are blessed invites us to live our lives with radical, generous, spacious gratitude. The prayer of Examin has helped me to become aware of the minute moments of my day where I experience the blessings of God and help me to live from a place of gratitude.
As the recipient of the prayers of God’s people along with many acts of kindness and words of comfort, I have found the community of faith to be a light revealing Christ on the landscape of my life and the lives of my family these days.