It was Mrs. Brizendine, my English teacher in seventh grade, who first introduced me to the concept of paradox, when two things or concepts that are contradictory to one another are nonetheless found or experienced to be true at the same time.
Take for example the truth that something that happened years ago can also feel like it happened just yesterday, as a friend and I recently were remembering what it felt like to hold our then-newborn-babies, who are now teenagers and young adults. Or how something can be both joyful and heartbreaking at the same time; or how an end is also a beginning.
The apostle Paul talks about followers of Christ living in the tension between “the already” and “not yet” of Christ’s reign. And in his sermon last Sunday, Rev. George Hopkins spoke of both the joy and agony of responding to and living into your call, living into and following through on what God is inviting you to take part in.
In his daily meditation today, Franciscan priest and spiritual writer Fr. Richard Rohr quotes Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, from a sermon preached in the fall of 2014 after the shooting of Michael Brown and weeks of protests in Ferguson, Missouri:
“There is nothing more confusing to the postmodern personality, to the millennial sojourner, than to have to exist between the strange life of dealing with your Blues and Gospel all the time. Madness and ministry, chaos and Christ. My father heard an elder in Georgia say it this way. When he asked her, ‘How are you doing, Mother?’ she said, ‘I’m living between Oh Lord and Thank you, Jesus.’
For the most part, many of us are living in between, not quite at ‘Oh Lord’ and not quite at ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ but somewhere in between.”
I wonder if this truth resonates with you, at all, on this freezing cold January day? Might you also be living in the paradox, living the tension somewhere in between “Oh Lord” and “Thank you Jesus”?
If you are, let me know, and know you are not alone.