Deliberate vulneralbility

Psalm 148, 149, 150 (Morning)

Psalm 114, 115 (Evening)

Jeremiah. 29:1,4-14

Acts 16:6-15

Luke 10:1-12,17-20

Link to CNN opinion piece:

Sometimes, I just shake my head at what I overhear pre-clinical medical students say in the hallway. This week’s gem was, “Normal people just don’t understand. Normal people don’t have stress. Medical students have stress.”

It’s a great example of where “being too insular” and “having a skewed sense of privilege” gets a person.

Now, before you get too worried about your future health care possibilities in your old age, I think comments like these are the minority, and I can also tell you an awful lot of growing up occurs in most of them in that pilgrimage from pre-clinical medical student to clinical medical student to intern/resident, to practicing physician. I was rather amused that, when I posted this un-attributed comment on my Facebook wall, some of the biggest pokers of fun of the comment were former students, who, only a few years prior, were just as skewed in their notions of “what’s reality.”

The harsh reality of 21st century living in the developed world is this: It’s very easy to have a skewed sense of privilege. It’s even easier to never look at all and have a reality check about that. It’s a snap to “choose to remain insular.”

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus is asking 70 disciples to head into the world in pairs in a state of deliberate vulnerability–with the notion that only one of some traveling items is enough, and to even go without certain items.

Now, I’ve been sort of poking fun at my anonymous medical student here, but the harsh reality of my own life is I can’t remember the last time I only bought ONE of anything at the grocery store. I always buy at least two, and when I get down to the last one, I know it’s time to buy more…and really…when’s the last time you ever saw the possibility of buying only ONE roll of toilet paper in the store? We aren’t even given the opportunity!

What we seem to miss, though is something we are told very early in this story. In verse 2, we are assured that there is enough potential–“The harvest is plentiful.” The United States produces enough food to feed all of us and a good chunk of the world along with us. We have land enough that there’s no reason everyone can’t have a home. There is industry enough that everyone could have a job and be paid a living wage, if one reads some interesting articles of late. Yet people in the U.S. go hungry, some are homeless, and many would do anything for a job–and I’m pretty sure if any of us asked around, in our hearts, very few people truly believe what I just said about this plentiful potential in our society. I struggle to believe it myself. We’ve been trained to believe that there is not enough. Many readers of this blog are reading because they are truly suffering from a lack of these staples, and it’s hard to even imagine the potential for “enough.”

The rub, of course, is that to make it enough, it requires a mass attitude change, of which all of us are guilty of ignoring in some way or at one time or another. I imagine none of us will ever fully get there, but there are ways we can all become less insular and more in touch with the reality around us. When we fully engage ourselves in the places where people really are doing without, we are liable to discover that we are really not so much different than “them.” When those of us who truly have been having trouble making ends meet share our stories honestly and openly with those who don’t even have the concept on their radar, we are giving people an opportunity to change their hearts. When we make a concerted effort not just to “live within our means,” but “live at a level considerably less than our means,” we create new opportunities to give, to serve, and to share. We reduce the demand of our carbon footprint on this world. We might even discover that our life is filled with “more than enough.” In the words of one of my neighbors as he was harvesting his soybeans recently, “I got a better yield than I thought I would.”

Yes, our Gospel reading does point out a danger to this–that this notion might be met with rejection–but we also need to remember there is always another harvest season. What falls on deaf ears one year, might be heard in another.

Where are the places of “invisible privilege” in your life? Where is a place you can start to practice “deliberate vulnerability?”

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid

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