“A voice from heaven said…Saul, why do you persecute me?” – Acts 9:4-5
I live a very safe life and am white enough to trust the police. That being said, I often feel persecuted. My persecution is called trivialization. I putter my piety. I neglect the divine on behalf of the immediate. I play penultimate, not ultimate Frisbee. I stay in the shallows. I keep God alive in my heart only to forget about what God might want from me on a regular basis. That is a version of spiritual privilege. I know I am baptized and blessed with the deep water of Jesus’ Christianity. I know where I’m supposed to live. I just don’t get there most days, most of the time. That is what it means to be a generalist at religion, an amateur at faith, and a second stringer spiritually. I get to play in the game after the others have already won it. I feel more than a little persecuted by the heavy demands of faith and the great shallowness of not knowing what to have for dinner.
I have been thinking of adopting a nickname—Rip Van Twinkle—which would allow me to dive more deeply into my days. Rip came back after twenty years’ sleep and found that everything had changed.
I woke up one day and realized that I had become old. I woke up one day and realized that most of my life was over. Instead of diving deeply, I had been sticking my toes in one shallow pool after another. Why, God asks me, did I consent to persecution of the divine? I didn’t really consent. I just fell asleep.
Spirited Jesus, during this Lent let us realize we were offered twinkle and took temptations instead. Help us. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.