I sat at the kitchen counter in silence this morning, raw honey poised over bitter tea, Bible open to this morning's Gospel, and it hit me in a way that it never has before today. Late last night, I read an email from a reader that began, "I stopped reading your blog because it always made me feel bad about myself. Everything in your life is perfect and if it isn't, you spritualize it until it is."
Stirred the honey into the tea, grateful for the sweet that chases the bitter.
I get some variation of that email pretty often. Usually, my reaction is to be sure that I write something very soon after that makes it clear that I'm not perfect, my kids aren't perfect, my life isn't perfect, and none of us are under the delusion that any of it is. Perfect. This time, though, it didn't hit me that way. This time, I sort of understood what she was getting at.
I read places and come away feeling less than, too. It's not so much about perfection, it's more about something seeming being better :: more peaceful or more beautiful or more hopeful or holier. My favorite social media is Instagram. I love a picture. I really, really do. I love the way a picture can tell a whole story. Instagram (and all its sisters) is a slippery slope towards filling in all the blanks outside the frame and making a false idol of one's neighbor.
Yep. False idol.
Them are fighting words. I have to tell myself that fighting false idols is critical to my spiritual health. This morning, reading today's Gospel, I thought about that email.
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.