I had a choice. I was told that there were basically two paths to follow. I had a choice as to which one my life would trod.
A mentor explained the one pathway as this:
1). learn and understand the system
2). know your place in the system
3). play the system with all you got to have the system work for you
Another mentor suggested a different plan:
1). trust in God
2). trust that the Church is of God
3). trust the system that the Church has created and continues to reform
I am reminded about the teaching of the Anointed, Beloved One. "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." (Matthew 10.16 NRSV) Or, as a well respected and dear bishop would read it: "Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove." (Matthew 10.16 The Message)
Basically, the choice had to do with the balance and tension between two realities. The world--and, yes, even the Church--can be dangerous places. Notwithstanding, the role we play in those places--as dangerous as they can be--is being advocates for and centers of peace.
Peterson's The Message--as it typically does--expands and amplifies both the context and the implications. The NRSV, on the other hand draws into focus the need for wisdom and innocence.
The context ...
Wolf pack v. sheepfold.
A hostile, aggressive, threat--innate and impulsive, perched, stalking, and ready to strike.
A dumbfound (as in being oblivious to danger), dependent, community strangely without awareness, concern or the ability not to get lost.
Talk about being dealt a bad hand.
The implications ...
The goal is not only to make it through to the other side, but also to make a difference while passing through.
Wolf and lamb relationships will be all that they are. Nonetheless, being who we are--and a much overlooked wolf-like possibility--relationships can change. Adversity may become advantage. Instinct may become incorporated character. The ways things are--and always have been--can become something different, even better.
Snakes and doves ...
They are natural enemies. Given the likelihood, a snake would strike the dove. Not that the bird would be a meal, be it too large for all but the gargantuan. Rather, because the snake is meant to be a symbol of savage and adverse opposition.
Meanwhile, the dove serves as a symbol of peace. Peace here is not in fitting with today's common understanding and use of the term. Peace is a broader, all encompassing reality wherein there is not only tranquility, but also justice, equity, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and wellness.
The contrast of snake and dove, wolf and lamb, visits the poem of Robert Frost: Mending Fences--
Something there is that doesn't love a wall ... Good
fences make good neighbours ... again, "Good fences
make good neighbours."
The fence is known to separate and mark boundaries. It is a device to order our time and place so as things--and people--may have a defined distinction.
The problem therein ...
We are individuals. While at the same time, we are part of a community.
(to be continued, if and when my brain turns back on ...)