Banias, Ancient Caesarea Philippi OSU Special Collections and Archives
A woman asked me once, in a confrontational way, “Who are you?” I didn’t know how to answer. All I could think was, I am me. I didn’t think she would understand.
And mostly I don’t understand the “me” who inhabits this frail human body. I believe I am a precious daughter of God. Sometimes a wilful child, sometimes a cooperative one, sometimes cranky, sometimes cheerful, sometimes resentful, sometimes forgiving.
In light of the Lord’s perfection, I am a humble pupil, a striving wannabe, a stumbling follower in the way of love and compassion.
[Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15
Unknown maker, Rembrandt Pupil, active 1650s Christ and the Canaanite Woman, 1650 Pen and brown ink, brown wash, corrected with white gouache J. Paul Getty Museum
Every day I have choices to make. I look to the Scriptures to decide what is right and just:
Love my neighbors, love my enemies.
Pray for those who persecute me.
Forgive those who hurt me.
Feed the hungry.
Give shelter to the homeless.
Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just. Isaiah 56:1a
I wonder, if I listened very hard, if I would hear a holy voice say I am God’s beloved child.
I wonder how it would change me to live with the knowledge that I am God’s beloved child, that we are all God’s beloved children, that God is pleased and delighted by our presence.
From the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” Matthew 17:5b-8
William H. Rau (1855-1920) Fishermen by the Sea of Galilee, Palestine stereograph, gelatin silver, ca.29 December 1903
Today’s net holds a variety of interesting “fish.” I find joy in the beautiful morning. Pain deep in my bones. Ease for the pain in the sun’s warmth. Anxiety about returning to work tomorrow. Comfort in the cat’s purr. Annoyance in the in-and-out demands of another cat. An opportunity to be in touch with my elderly aunt. A message from a friend.
To be in the kingdom of heaven is to choose the fish that feed me and others. It is to make a deliberate effort to discard the fish that weaken my ability to love.
Today I choose to let go of anxiety and annoyance. I choose to be gentle with the pain. I choose to give thanks for the beauty of the world and the people I encounter.
[Jesus said to his disciples,] “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.” Matthew 13:47-48