I guess that language is a little strong for a pastor.
I don’t like peas very much at all. Better than broccoli and cauliflower, clearly. Better than spinach (cooked) and carrots (cooked). But corn on the cob is a thousand times better. Potato chips are a hundred times better. Burning my tongue on hot chocolate is ten times better.
I’ve tried them raw (at the suggestion of my parents who believed that that would help). I’ve tried them hot, cool, in salads. I’ve tried them more than once. But I just don’t like peas.
But one at a time, I can swallow them.
What makes peas tolerable for me, aloneness, is the very thing that is intolerable for people. When we are isolated, one pea against confusion or darkness or despair, we can get swallowed pretty easily. And, interestingly, we aren’t made to be alone. We have all this wonderful stuff we have learned about the importance of one voice, about standing up for ourselves, about one person mattering. And I guess all that is true. But I fear that we have emphasized that spiel so much that we have not believed that each other matter.
If you will humor me for a moment, I’d like to trace some Bible history.
1. God says it isn’t good for Adam to be alone so He creates Eve. Forget the
stupid trivial arguments about gender, the point of this text is that aloneness isn’t a good thing.
2. God, as described in scripture is one God, three persons. By definition, God is community.
3. When people are sent on tasks, they are usually sent in pairs or more. In fact, when Jesus sends the disciples (Peter and John and company) on training missions, he sends them in pairs.
4. When Jesus, about to die, is having his last peaceful conversation with his disciples, he says, “You love me? Do what I say. What do I say? Love each other. In fact, love each other the way I am (about) to love you.” And within 12 hours he was dying.
Much to the chagrin of churchy people, the standard that Jesus established was not dying for our faith. It was dying for each other. Too often we get all stuffy about standing up for our beliefs. Seldom do we get celebrated for laying down our lives or our livelihood for others. (However, it happens. All the time)
So peas by themselves get eaten by me and people by themselves get eaten. Great. So what’s the point?
In Washington D.C. on Friday, December 21, Susan Reynolds is having surgery for breast cancer. A bunch of people who know Susan through an online community are encouraging her by putting pictures of peas in place of their faces. Other people are talking about Susan and her attitude. Many of these same people will be contributing to breast cancer research starting tomorrow.
There are a whole bunch of individual peas who are joining funds together. There are a whole bunch of people who are joining encouragement together. There are a whole bunch of people who are cheering for a person they have never met face-to-face.
But what will it mean, long term? Will this be another social media fad, forgotten when twitter goes down?
I don’t think so.
Because Susan isn’t having surgery on a virtual body. Her real body will bleed tomorrow. And real blood has a tendency to grab real hearts in a real way. Real people are sharing real time. And real money. And real prayer.
For many of us, we will be reminded to look for the Susan that we can see and touch and listen to and help. Because Susan is inviting us into her head and heart, we are getting an articulate (usually) guided tour through the discovery, diagnosis, pre-op, and soon, post-op world of a person facing trauma. She’s talking about the nerves. She’s talking about the support. She’s talking about the pain. She’s talking.
As a result of Susan’s talk, when we are talking to people we see daily and we find out that they are facing similar fears, we suddenly have a vocabulary of partial understanding. Just as Susan has been learning from others, we are learning from her.
I still don’t like peas. But I’m grateful for the people who are deciding to not be individual peas but are trying to figure out what caring for each other looks like when we can’t see each other.
Oh. And I’m praying for peace. For Susan and her family tomorrow. And for you.