Grace and Peace to you.
When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that God swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
?Deuteronomy 6. 10-12
If we are honest in our relationship with the world, we are mindful that everything is a gift; we have not earned anything that others have not labored for; we do not posses anything for which others have not had to sacrifice. If we read Israel’s history, or America’s, with imperialist eyes, we can believe that God “gave” us these lands, rather than that we stole them from native people. We can forget that our goods, our ease and our freedom come from beyond us.
This doesn’t mean we ought to live in guilt, nor should we live in the past. It’s an invitation to humility, gratitude and simplicity, a deeper awareness and a more heartfelt generosity. This mindfulness says: hold your possessions lightly, since they’re not really yours, anyway. Be gratefully aware of the great web of creation that sustains you: the people who provide your goods, the unseen thousands who maintain the world you live in, the creatures who offer, or become, your food. Contribute to creation rather than merely being a consumer. Avoid thinking that your ease is the greatest value.
Resist the temptation of arrogance with the awareness that you depend upon stolen land, plundered goods and exploited lives. Devote yourself to justice on behalf those upon whose suffering or sacrifice your ease or goods depend. Honor those whose land, rights, livelihood, health and even lives have been taken in the name of your country or your comfort. Repent of your complicity in injustice and oppression, and as much as is possible, refuse to participate in such systems.
Notice today whose labor, sacrifice or suffering is someone else’s gain. Take note, and let it return you to humility, gratitude and generosity.
That we live in such a fine land and enjoy so many fine things is neither our destiny nor our deserving, but a gift. Be grateful, humble and generous, then, and devote yourself to justice for those from whom such gifts are withheld by the very systems that so richly endow us. Above all, be generous. What you have is not yours, but a gift, so give.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes