The first scripture reading for today (1Kings 17:17-24) has Elijah entering into a widow's house only to find out her son has died. He takes the body to the upper room where he is able to call upon God and is heard. The son is brought back to life through Elijah's call and action. In the Gospel (LK 7:11-17) Jesus brings a dead man back to life. In both accounts Elijah and Jesus are recognized as people of God after performing these miracles. I reflect today on what it means to have life restored and know that over the years this has happened for me. One seduction that constantly beckons is cynicism and what I have learned is that the antidote for such a condition is getting in touch with innocence.
It sounds silly on one level, yet for me there are practices that help make a return to innocence possible. When I talk of innocence it is about being in touch with the freshness of each moment as an unexpected welcome. For instance, teaching high school demanded that I be present to students in a way that was real. Teaching theology was fun for me as it helped God come to life in my prayer and interactions in ways I would have never imagined. Partly this was because I realized if I was not authentic there was no way to reveal the universal message of God's love. The students I came to know helped me learn that there is not room for cynicism when committing to a life of love. Teaching young people offers a fresh perspective if one listens. This is where love moved me into a cause that requires I work with others in order for them to know God's love. This can be done in so many different venues outside of the classroom as well and as life unfolds my guess is more opportunities will arise. There are ways that I still struggle with the cynical voices that pop-up in my head, and at times it feels like I lean hard into nihilism (this has become more apparent over the past year or so). It is a dance that will likely continue. The difference today is that I cannot deny the new life I have found through God's love.