What does living faithfully mean? In my context, it means living faithfully to my understanding of God’s call in the world. ‘Call’ being a pull into realizing there is much more than ‘me’ involved in the warp and woof of the universe. There are connections in many realms.
Connections to the Divine Light pervading all Creation. Connections in time, space and human relationship. Connections I often only dimly sense, but am deeply woven into, none-the-less. Living faithfully might be living with an awareness of the connections.
Being aware of a connection to the Divine helps me live in awareness of other connections I am part of. But many who profess to be unaware of any Divinity in their lives have and hold a sense of themselves as connected to the wider world they inhabit. They are accountable.
Maybe accountability is the new term for living faithfully. Not accountable to the divinely flowing nature of God intersecting/pervading/encompassing the entirety of Creation – that’s my sense. But accountable to Creation herself, and creatures themselves. Accountable for actions here and now, then and there.
Accountable in the sense that living on stolen land cannot be written off as a mistake of the past, but must be acknowledged as a practice of the present. Accountable in the sense that getting the lowest price cannot be seen as an act of its own, but must be seen in the light of who pays that price in your stead: minimum wage workers; children making garments or harvesting crops; unsafe factories cutting costs and killing staff; transportation systems that damage the air we breathe; dams flooding agricultural land to power industrial plants churning out more product than we need; landfill sites bursting with unwanted goods.
Accountable in the sense that every act has a consequence, every decision an effect, every word, every deed, every way of being in the world. Accountable in the sense that a kind word to a harried retail worker can sometimes change a life. Accountable in the sense that a smile and a nod to a stranger on the street can sometimes create community where none existed before. Accountability in the sense that a hand offered, a walk shoveled, a word of encouragement, a gift of time, a willingness to step out in support and care for another can – as Mohandas Gandhi used to say “Be the world we wish to create.”
I believe we can also be that world through prayer, giving the Divine – love, energy, joy and possibility as our gifts and receiving from the Divine – love, energy, joy and possibility. Whatever I believe and experience, however, I suspect you don’t have to believe or experience anything like it to be accountable for your actions, to know they have an effect and to live your life in that light, or as it.
Perhaps the question is not whether we live faithfully, but how, and with whom. How do we examine our lives? Who takes intentional steps to journey with us?
Keith Simmonds is a diaconal minister in the Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge serving Beaver Valley, Rossland, Salmo and Trail.