Living Forward

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” 

Soren Kierkegaard

Nothing annoyed me more than an adult saying to my teenage self, ‘You will understand when you get a little bit older.’  I always thought I was older.  Older than the last time they said those words!  Now that I really am older by a lot, I do not always understand, and someone might still want to say those words to me.

An intriguing conversation has been happening around this past year under Covid19.  Some are questioning the reference to these months as a lost year, especially when speaking of school age children, the reference to a lost year may be unhelpful.  I tend to agree.  Yes, there were and are losses, however, we know that even in losses life happens.  Life did not stop.  Growth did not stop.  It looks different.  I wonder if looking backwards over time, having moved forward, the context of this time will offer its insights to the future.  Then we will recognize how much has been learned outside of what was considered normal learning.

Repeatedly I return to the image of a wilderness journey for this time.  The Exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt if you will.  They were led by God into a new future.  Living forward.  They knew captivity.  Some wanted to return to it.  To live they moved forward.  The future generations would remember.  Remembering defined the future.  It showed them who they were and who they would be.  There was no return to normal.  There was a new normal.

The wilderness journey of this year has included Covid19, refugees journeying or trapped, racism risking a future, anti-LGBTQ movements, domestic terrorists putting communities at risk, all trying to redirect the march away from a well and holy future.  To live forward in this wilderness is to remember our bondage to sin, learn from the wrongs of the past, and follow God into a future that looks different.  A new normal.

On May 23 we celebrate the third great festival of the church, Pentecost.  With the coming of the Holy Spirit, with wind and fire sweeping among the faithful, we are sent on the journey, living forward, leaning into hopeful space for all. Leaning into God’s holy way, pushed by the power of the breath of God into a future, a new normal, where all dance into joy together.

Pastor Linda Gunderson †

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