Sunday, July 14, 2013

Who has been healed?

Proper 10C (Post 2)

Today’s Gospel lesson (Luke 10:25-37), the Good Samaritan story, asks the question “Who is my neighbor?”  The answer to that question gives us reason to pay attention to the interconnections between ourselves and our sisters and brothers all over the world, and being intentional about tending to those interconnections so that we are good neighbors gives us reason to pay attention to the interconnections between human beings and everything else in God’s creation. (See yesterday’s post, Who are our neighbors?)

Awareness of these interconnections brings us to another question, though: If I am interconnected with everyone and everything, then healing of any person or any part of creation brings some degree of healing to me, too. If the Good Samaritan and the injured man are interconnected, then the Good Samaritan’s efforts to help the other man heal also brought some degree of healing to him. People who care for others in need know this; oftentimes a hospital room prayer for healing affects the person praying and others in the room as profoundly as the person for whom they are praying. Who, then, has been healed?

On July 5 and 6, people gathered near the tar sands mining area in Alberta, for a healing walk. (See for information about the walk and pictures and stories from the event.) The walk was focused on healing the environment in this area of tar sands extraction and on healing the people who are suffering from the destruction and poisoning of the land, air, and water around the tar sands extraction area.

This week Caitlyn Vernon, the Coastal Campaigner from Sierra Club BC, wrote a post Heartbreak at the Edge of Canada’s Tar Sands, about her experience of the healing walk. After describing the environmental destruction she witnessed as she walked, she writes this:

Here's what I realized as the healing walk brought heart and hope to this bleak landscape: it's not just about offering our solidarity and support to the First Nation communities most impacted by the tar sands. The healing required goes much deeper than that.

Trees can grow back. Nature is amazingly resilient, given thousands of years. But the real question is, how do we heal ourselves, and our relationship to the world around us, so that we stop inflicting such devastation in the first place? We are all in this together.

Working to heal ourselves and our relationship to the world around us is a necessary piece of bringing healing to other people and the earth that sustains us all. One of the gifts people of faith can offer as we work to heal our planet is the gift of spiritual healing. We know something about this on a deep level. That knowledge is a necessary tool to bring true healing to the people and places nearest to the poison and destruction that endanger life on this planet, and in the end to all of us.

Yesterday evening brought news of the verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The trial has shown us again how far we have to go in this country to heal ourselves of fear, of racism, of hatred. Something we know from ecological work – that we are all in this together – speaks to this situation as well. We don’t have to be residents of Florida or African-Americans or members of any other discrete group of people to feel a connection to this situation and to be in need of healing. We all recognize familiar elements in this tragic killing. If we are honest, we recognize ourselves someplace in the fear on all sides, in the racial and class divisions, or in the discomfort with people different from ourselves. As Caitlyn Vernon asked about the healing walk in Canada, we can ask ourselves after yesterday’s verdict: How do we heal ourselves, and our relationship to the world around us, so that we stop inflicting such devastation in the first place?

The dots between the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida and the destruction in Alberta aren’t hard to connect when we think about fear, greed, power, and the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves. The Gospel’s power is that Christ’s healing love is as live-giving and important in Alberta and Florida in 2013 as it was in Jesus’ time and place.

Working for a sustainable and healthy world for ourselves and our neighbors now and in generations to come requires us to work to heal ourselves and to build healthier and stronger relationships with other people and the rest of creation. It requires us to do the joyful work of living into God’s kingdom, the realm of Christ’s love. That joyful work is what makes the yoke easy and the burden light even in the midst of death and destruction.

Good Samaritan window at St. Mark's Pro-Cathedral, Hastings, NE

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