There Jesus is on the cross, dying for the other. There his followers are below him. Those that love him, walked with him, ate with him, and were willing to die for him. All were somewhere in awe. The scriptures have no glorious moment of rescue by the disciples. There was no distraction and escape with Jesus clinging on to life in the back of a wagon or astride on a horse. Jesus dies and all are left wondering, alone, and silent.
Silence allows me to hear and see suffering and understand that we cannot be the solution, because I am part of the problem. Thomas Merton the ever thoughtful and profound child of God said,
“The purest faith has to be tested by silence in which we listen for the unexpected, in which we are open to what we do not yet know, and in which we slowly and gradually prepare for the day when we will reach out to a new level of being with God. True hope is tested by silence in which we have to wait on the Lord in the obedience of unquestioning faith.”
Silence is not something that I catch like the flu. Silence is a discipline that is hard fought and won in the dominate culture of the western world with sacrifice and commitment. Actions that are seemingly absent from the fabric of today’s fast paced popular culture filled with ipods, e-mail, ifriends, e-books, mobile phones, mobile friends, mobile lives, and mega this or super size that. We do not have the time to be silence or we must schedule it in our handheld mobile worlds. These are the iOther.
The silence slows me down, if only for the moment.It delivers me to transformation and proximity to the other. Right before my eyes the profane becomes sacred, the self enters the other.Not becoming the same and remaining diverse with the ability to enter the iOther and not be bound by its tempting illusions of the other.
I go to sleep at night.I close my eyes.I see the face of a girl pulled from the ruble of a collapsed building in China.I see the picture of a starving Ethiopian child being watched by a vulture. I see riots in Peru and Haiti over food. My heart aches as I realize the depth of my involvement in the systemic oppression that seeks to numb me to the other.
These question haunt me, “What is the other? What is an appropriate response to the other? Where is Jesus in this mess? How does God speak to us? Is there really a point to existence at all?” It robs me of sleep. It instills fear and confusion. I remember the other. No longer can comfort and peace be found in the iOther. It can no longer sooth my soul. I ache. I long for closeness. I require relationship. I desire real proximity.I struggle to find that river flowing, face to face, the cycle of creation that enters into real proximity of the other. I must have a place in that river?
A responsibility to the other that is not satisfied with an email or skim of ones blog. The iOther sinks to the bottom to the river as it is replaced by the face of my grandmother, then the face of that boy that died in tenth grade, then that fish that I caught, then the cow I ate at lunch, then the nameless faces that parade around on TV late at night, then...I am faced with my own face. Alone, silent the iOther unveiled. The iOther holds power, it is no longer there. There is no-thing left to distinguish faces. I am…I believe. I have faith. I have proximity to the other. I dwell in the house of the Lord. I think...
Where do we go from here? How can we attain a real vulnerable faith in Jesus absent of the utter responsibility to the other? This is where the commandment to love thy neighbor as thy self really penetrates existence. We are not our own. How do we respond as the beautiful creatures of a loving God? What does the proximity to the other mean to our denomination(s)? Our communities? Our self’s?