My friend, Rocky Supinger, wrote a post on his blog about “The Multiplicity of Narrative”—when our life moments intersect with other people’s life moments and the affect that may have on both our journeys (he comes up with the coolest titles for his blog posts—must be that Princeton Seminary education ;)). It got me thinking about something that has been a formative piece of my own experience and thought: the ripple effect (I know, not nearly as cool or sophisticated as “Multiplicity of Narrative”).
It’s an old understanding that like stones tossed into a pond our lives ripple through life affecting the lives of others in the pond even if just for a moment and even if only a little bit. How intentional can we be about how those ripples affect other people? I’m not sure we can entirely control it. We live our lives, making the best decisions we can in any given moment (some more conscious or intentional than others), while other people are doing the same. I cannot control how another views, receives, or responds to my behavior or existence. But I can try to control both my behavior and my response/reaction to the behavior of another so as to try to make the most positive influence I can in any given moment. A lofty goal and one in which I feel I am able to succeed more often than not—except when I’m tired or hungry or haven’t had any coffee.
Lent is around the corner, starting with Ash Wednesday next week, and I’m trying to figure out a Lenten practice that will help me go deeper in my relationship with God and God’s world. These practices are typically to give something up so that when the desire comes we are reminded of our relationship with God and invited into a moment of prayer and reflection on our relationship. In the past I’ve given things up and tried to engage in positive practices (and usually failed to follow through the practices…somehow giving something up is so much easier than taking something on). Most of what I’ve done in the past has been for personal growth—what’s going to help me grow deeper or stronger or healthier? I want to do something that is beyond me, though. I want to do something that will help the world for these next 40 days that might transform into something life-long, something I can carry with me into and beyond Easter that will have that ripple effect in a positive way.
My new, yet-to-be-met, friend, Lorenza Andrade Smith—a United Methodist pastor who asked her bishop to charge her to live on the streets and share the love of God, which she has been doing for three years so far—has decided to go on a juice fast for Lent and decided to broaden her little ripple by inviting others to join her even if but for a day or two. She knows a lot of people so I’m sure she’ll get some takers! Have you considered whether or not you are going to adopt a Lenten practice to open yourself up more to God? And if so, have you thought about whether it will be a private practice or a journey on which you might invite others? Post your ideas here.