Marvin Repinski: What are things that can bring us together?

Published 6:17 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

“Our differences define us but our common humanity can redeem us.  We just have to open our hearts.”  (Karen Armstrong)

We currently share more turbulence, pain, conflict, and struggles than can be equal to the years of most of us who read the Austin Daily Herald. It’s like the world on every continent is in the whirlwind of discontent, war, crime, poverty, and disagreement. Into this vortex of our questions and care on behalf of others and ourselves, we humbly ask for and share our stability.

It certainly is not selfish to take care of ourselves. If we don’t care for ourselves, who will? And the mighty reaction is that when we are taken care of, there is a flow, a dynamic that enables the care for others! I share a paragraph from the writings of Pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick, who for many years was the leader of a church in New York City:

“There is a Scandinavian saying which some of us might well take as a rallying cry for our lives:  ‘The north wind made the Vikings.’  Wherever did we get the idea that secure and pleasant living, the absence of difficulty, and the comfort of ease, ever of themselves made people either good or happy?  Upon the contrary, people who pity themselves go on pitying themselves even when they are laid softly on a cushion, but always in history character and happiness have come to people in all sorts of circumstances, good, bad and indifferent, when they shouldered their personal responsibility.  So, repeatedly the north wind had made the Vikings.”

In considering “things” that can bring us to self-realization and impinge on the betterment of the larger world, I cite a story. Postponement as the source of poverty is the predicament of many people! Do you want to hurt yourself, your family, your lover, your bank account, and the favor of your parents?

A question: A big question — try postponement; try ignoring current bills; try thinking “things will change once I get my life in order.” Try putting off what is due today. Try neglecting the here and now. Try waiting for your boat to come in.  Just keep postponing … TAKE OUT IF TOO LONG. UTTERLY POINTLESS.

My story is an observation of the pitfalls and anguish of loss. The brother of a nice guy allowed a particular notice to sit on the dinner table. The brother kept reminding him:  “The insurance on your car is coming due; better get to it!”  Answer: “Keep riding me on bills. I’ll get to it.”  “When?”  “I’ve got a few days — I know I need insurance on my car — I drive it to work.”

The present story. A car wreck resulted when someone plowed into a street sweeper.  Passengers in the car were injured; a bystander was sent to the hospital. Now the big postponement is the poverty issue. The car insurance expired due to non-payment of the premium. “I kept saying tomorrow — tomorrow I’ll get with it.”  Sometimes that tomorrow will cut short most of your financial accounts.  Who will pay all the bills mounting up? You, the owner of the car, now has to face the bill collectors. The “someday” has come to today and now you will have nothing but few finances, poverty, or maybe jail time. The journey from neglect to poverty is now. It is yours to live with.

Our virtues of living thoughtfully, maybe with a few things to do on the calendar, attention to work, and keeping on top of responsibilities is the manner of bringing yourself together (making life more livable), and assisting others in a wide circle.

The religious life is not a cure-all for all human ills, but to neglect its best admonishments and promises may be just what we need.

In a conversation with the checkout lady at Hy-Vee this week, she said, “It’s a crazy world!” I won’t disagree, but I add there are fresh opportunities and many wonderful qualities, people, and events in this world.

We are called to inclusion, not exclusion. Some so-called politicians formulate policies, speeches, and writings excluding many people. I don’t buy it! The psychologist Carl Jung once said that a great deal of institutional religion seems designed to prevent the faithful from having a spiritual experience. Instead of teaching people how to live in peace, religious leaders often concentrate on marginal issues: Can women or gay people be ordained as priests or rabbis? Is contraception permissible? Is evolution compatible with the first chapter of Genesis?  Instead of bringing people together, these distracting preoccupations actually encourage policies of exclusion.

Sometimes I don’t quite know how to respond to some of the Biblical stories. But they are in the Bible that I read and I just mull them over. I say to myself, “Maybe that example, that verse, that recording is for me.”

“Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil……and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair.”  (The Bible, John 12:3)