Monday, October 24, 2016
Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 4:32-5:8
A few years ago I got to meet the writer and religious leader Parker Palmer. He was in his late sixties then, I think, much taller than I expected, 6’ 6” it turns out, dressed in black pants and a dress shirt with an ordinary fleece vest. And there was just something about him. I could feel it, sense it, from the beginning. It was in his person, almost in his body, in the way he carried himself, in the way he listened to me and looked at me. It was kindness. It was wisdom. And as I got to spend more time with him and talk with him more I could see this kindness and wisdom more and more plainly, and not in anything he said exactly–he couldn’t have been more down-to-earth—but in that very down-earth-ness, in that very simplicity.
It was if he gave off a fragrant aroma–as if he had a kind of smell, or a kind of essence, or something, not literally but in some way I can’t put my finger on, and I’ve known other people like that, people I just want to be around, to be in the presence of, and I think that must be a little glimpse of what it was like to be in the presence of Christ, and what it’s still like, because when we’re in the presence of Christ we are in the presence of a person, not an idea, not a principle, but a person, who loves us and “gives himself over” to us.
I don’t mean to idealize Parker Palmer, who is just like anyone else, with faults and limitations, too, but to say that there was in him something that was Christ-like, just as there can be with anyone else, with any of us, if we avoid “obscenity” and “silly talk,” if we try not to act out of “impurity” or “greed.”
I remember Palmer asked me to take him back to his hotel room a couple of hours early, before his talk. He wanted to have enough time to pray for an hour. To quiet himself.
That’s what I was sensing in him: that silence, that grounding in God.
“Empty arguments” don’t matter. We can’t let them deceive us. We can’t think we’re supposed to engage in them ourselves. They’re beside the point.
How can we be a Christian in the world? How can we be a Christian in a classroom or an office or lab at OSU? In a store? In our kitchen?
By smelling like this: like a fragrant aroma—an aroma that comes from sacrifice—the sacrifice of our egos, the sacrifice of our false and distracting selves.