Lately I’ve been reflecting on my identity and the nature of my role in this world. Lent is sort of conducive to soul searching and desert treks of the heart and I have not been very far from that nature of questioning.
On Thursday I read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus at our Kairos meeting. I was struck by the tension inside me. The pull between my identity as an advocate for the poor and the actual reality of my life is a lived frustration that is hard to bare. I do admit that I readily practice the sin of cynical rationalism in this country where my heart is often buried below “higher” priorities rather than connecting with my neighbor. Yet I also know that I can hide between the cozy confines of carefully chosen rhetoric and a comfortable economic situation. Despite my concern for the poor on a global level, the more immediate evidence of a caring heart is often removed from the integrity of a situation. I fail to address needs right in front of me and worst of all, I don’t even make an effort to engage the poor right in front of me (think poor of spirit as well).
And so, when I walk past men like Lazarus on the street, I carefully prioritize my thoughts and actions into an interaction that is stale and often lacking heart. I reach into my pocket perhaps, exchange a smile, but I fail to see the complete reality that is so very apparent in hindsight and times of reflection.
You see, I am nothing more than a beggar myself (as pointed out in today’s homily at church). I crave to be seen and connect in meaningful ways. I find myself being attached to needs unfulfilled and dependencies that hold me back from fully growing. And certain pain and self-judgment might surely get the best of me if it wasn’t for the moments when I am reminded of the frailty of humanity.
Yes, the frailty of humanity is what ties Lazarus and me together. And all the cynical rationalizations in the word cannot negate this lived reality.
Lazarus and I drink of the same cup so to speak. We share experiences of community and are offered renewal and moments of understanding who we truly are. In many ways, I will never know the truth of my inner life without a profound conversion within the context of relationship. I will never know the nature of my soul without the challenging connections of agony, defeat, joy, wonder, admiration and patience all wrapped in one. And most importantly, I will never know my calling until I can embrace the discrepancies between who I am and what I do.
As much as I am a globe trotter, crossing boundaries, voluntarily breaking my heart and mending it again, I must succumb to the fact that my personal evolution and identity is found within the daily interactions that create the pilgrimage that I am on. Each day, I am finding myself. And hopefully I slowly let down my guard so that the mirror image of Lazarus does not provoke a tension within.