Action and Inaction
In the northern part of the western hemisphere it is one of the busiest sports seasons ever. American football is in full swing with local community teams, school teams, college teams, and professional teams all vying for a field upon which to play. Halloween is less than six weeks away and Christmas decorations have been on store shelves for over a month. Everywhere there is action.
In the midst of all this hustle and bustle this past weekend, twenty-nine people were rudely taken out of their daily lifestyles to become the target of terrorism. People who had hurried past each other suddenly became part of a team they never wanted to be a part of, a team which now has a place in history. In an area known more to the local population than as a favored tourist area, these people perhaps had passed each other daily or stood behind each other in line waiting for their coffee.
In the book “Praying for Strangers”, author River Jordan states: “I can be a woman who prays for strangers but remains completely blind to their bruises.” How many people did you pass today? Now, answer me this: How many people did you really see? With all the sensory overload our busy lives, we often become indifferent to the people around us, the people the inhabit our living.
In the final minutes of their lies, people often report that it is not the material things they have in their lives that matter; what matters are the people. The very people we often take for granted or simply seem to not see often give our life definition. People we may have ignored or simply have not really seen might just be the one thing that helps define our living.
We need to step out of our busy lives to really live. We need to share our living with others. Our blindness to those around us translates into inaction on our part in giving of our selves. What we forget is that by giving of ourselves, we give them the most precious thing – our attention. Writer Kathleen Norris talks about our lives having a liturgy of their own and that each life has a sacred rhythm unique to each of us. Far too often we go through our lives with the mute button pressed down when it comes to hearing the rhythm of those we love and care about.
Too many people go through their daily living with blinders on, not really seeing the person standing next to them. We share common ground and yet act as if we are alone. We should connect with those around us. For many, prayer is living, the action of being part of the whole because prayer connects us together. When we pray for someone we are giving them attention and creating a connection to ourselves.
Prayer is action and this past weekend many people found themselves taking action by praying for those twenty-nine people injured in the bombing in Chelsea, NYC. Action can take on a different form than just prayer and should involve those in your own daily living, not just victims of terrorism or natural disasters halfway around the world or across the country. It might be the offer of a ride somewhere. It might be organizing a group dinner for those with no family during the holidays. It might be buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line or even just a smile. The thing to remember is that life is all about action.
Such action saves us from being indifferent to others. It creates a web in our lives that unites us with the rest of mankind. It is not just about the person we are praying for or the actions we undertake. Ultimately these actions benefit most the person who does them. Such action opens our eyes so that we see not only the need but the pain. It acknowledges the want without blame or guilt.
We all make decisions about action every hour. What will I wear? What will I eat? Where will I go? How will I do this task? It is time to think outside the box of our own being and ask ourselves what action can and should we do today to help another. After such attacks fear is an easy pit in which to fall but fear is not action. Fear is a negative emotion. Fear causes us to become inactive and hide. We need to take action and move forward. It not will create a better life; it will give our lives definition and meaning.