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Gary's Faith Walk

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Gary's Faith Walk

In a time of rage and anger

The dichotomy of my spring days couldn’t be more stark. Quiet walks reveal delicate umbrellas of lupine, light green leafing of birch and larch, and smells of the forest floor warmed again by the sun. But the seeming tranquility of the natural world is shattered when I connect with the mood of some around me.  The rage of Limbaugh, Savage, and Beck assault me when I occasionally pass through their radio or TV channel.  The broad-gauged anger of Tea Partiers shouts out in signs and bumper stickers:  “I’ll keep my guns, freedom, & money…you can keep the ‘change’,” “Don’t blame me, I voted for the American,” and “You are not entitled to what I have earned.” The hatred from the era of Richard Butler and Vincent Bertollini has not passed completely. Newspaper headlines announce “Home defaced with swastika, tires slashed” in Sandpoint and “Pocatello is latest target of racist flier campaign.”

This spring has been a time of introspection. As a follower of Jesus, I know my faith walk is a journey. Some days it’s a rigorous hike with great clarity as I stand on a rock outcrop with my destination clearly in view. Some days it’s bushwhacking through dense underbrush getting slapped in the face with low hanging branches not exactly certain where I’m headed.

On days of spiritual bushwhacking (those days of angry broadcasting or painful headlines), I return to central themes in my faith. The prophet Micah spoke it clearly, “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) Jesus lifted up the double love commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37-39).   

When I reflect on these biblical charges, the sting of getting slapped in the face by other’s rage, anger, and hatred eases. I fight through feelings of despair and being overwhelmed: war in Afghanistan, ongoing violence in Iraq, the tragedy of post-earthquake Haiti, soaring national debt, global warming, even the bark beetle infestation in the West. I focus on personal gifts, talents, and a sense of call.  At this phase of my life, the questions are straightforward. How might God be calling me do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly? Where do I have energy? How will I allocate my time? Then, I take a personal inventory. I write, I speak, I do, I donate, I love, and sometimes I even laugh! 

In such times of introspection, I understand my finiteness. I understand my singularity as one of six billion persons on this planet. But, rather than wallowing in a sense of helplessness, I chose to listen to the still small voice of God and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose. My words may only touch a few. My donations may bring but a modicum of relief to bereaved in Haiti. My efforts to live more gently on the earth may have only modest impact. My love will touch only those closely held. Still, it is what I am about this day, and it remains my way of responding to the rage and anger of these times. Where are you in your journey today? How are you sharing the gifts you have been given? I pray for your footsteps to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

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Gary Payton Gary Payton is on a Faith Walk that takes him to Russia, Eastern Europe and Sandpoint, Idaho

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