Imagine a wheel
Imagine that the world is a circle,
that God is the center,
and that the radii are the different ways human beings live.
When those who wish to come closer to God
move towards the center of the circle,
they come closer to one another
at the same time as to God.
The closer they come to God,
the closer they come to one another.
And the closer they come to one another,
the closer they come to God.
Likewise, the further they move from one another,
The further they move away from God.
~ Dorotheus of Gaza from The Letter from Calcutta (Instructions VI) (adapted)
Today marks Advent’s fourth Sunday. For this last week as we are journeying to Bethlehem, we will consider how we are seeking love along the way. Today might be a good time to take a few deep breaths. It might feel good to take a minute to think what has been picked up or discarded in these past weeks. We still have some ways to go, and there’s time to shift what we are currently carrying or decide what is no longer needed for these coming days.
On this fourth Sunday we are considering the notion of a wheel and Dorotheus’ ageless words. It’s interesting to wonder how these words were heard in Palestine when written in the 6th century. It’s interesting to think how generations of souls have resonated with this image over time. And even as I was typing them, I noticed how these words came alive again for me. So simple, and still so profound. So easy and so hard, both at the same time.
I wonder about companioning these words in the coming days between now and the ending of this journey. Just these words guiding my feet and my actions. If my intention is to draw closer to God, then I am told it matters that I use just as much energy leaning in toward my sisters and brothers. Those folks I call by name, as well the stranger on the street. Likewise, if my intention is to be a better neighbor, then it matters that I am loving God.
Not long-ago Lori and I hosted some of our neighbors for an impromptu happy hour. We only knew our neighbor next-door and hoped to get to know more. It turns out of the 12 of us, 8 were under the age of 35. All of those "youngsters" are working in IT from home. Most of them are runners and bicyclists. Probably because Lori is the pastor at the Methodist Church that is on our block, our neighbors asked `what kind of church’ it is. We both started talking about being open and affirming, and then I remembered this quote from Dorotheus. And the bicycle wheel. I described the church as hoping to live into Dorotheus’ image for the world. It was an amazing moment to watch them while sharing the image. To a person they were nodding and saying how that made sense. They were saying, “That’s how all churches should be.” And they should. And they can.
So, thank you, Dorotheus for these Sunday words. Thank you for these every-day-going-forward words. May we be mindful about whether or not we are moving toward or turning away from. Drawing closer or away from. Leaning in or pushing away. Our intentions with these coming steps.
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