“The sun rose upon Jacob, as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.” – Genesis 32: 31
Jacob wrestled with God and got a blessing. He also got a limp.
When my car needs maintenance, it flashes a dashboard sign. “Regular maintenance required,” it blares. I rarely get to the required maintenance till I’ve driven a few hundred miles over the car’s computerized limit. Thus, I drive along with the car’s computer yelling at me. Or so I feel. I take the accusation personally – around my own diet, my own sleep habits, and my own exercise regimen or lack thereof. I don’t need reminders about more deferred maintenance. I wrestle with God for a blessing and limp towards the one God offers.
I often feel the planet yelling at me too. It is begging for me to un-defer maintenance and to put in a maintenance plan. It may even be asking me for an oil change but that is probably stretching the metaphor too far. COP 22, the climate talks, opens in a few days in Morocco. Last year’s U.N. Climate Conference dominated the news; this year the election knocked it out.
Maybe my car is right. Deferred maintenance is required. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to hear a candidate go long and suggest a dollar a gallon tax on gasoline? Or prohibitions on cars that have only one passenger during the morning or evening commute? Or some way to wrestle back the blessing of creation? We were given magnificence. We forgot to rotate the tires.
At our highest and deepest humanity, we are caretakers of creation. At our most short-sighted, we limp along, hoping somebody will do something about something. God fights to give us a blessing instead.
Grant us, O God, long sightedness, even as we limp along.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her book: Prayers for People Who Say They Can’t Pray.