It has been a stunning week and in many respects I am catching my breath, before breathing normally again.
We have returned to the Big Island of Hawaii for a few days to read and write and rest. Here, along the Kohala coast, the sea rustles the shore, and moist air kisses our aging skin. It is a gentle world to all appearances, and one might think it was indeed the first paradise, the Garden of Eden. Sights and sounds and scents and flavors and soft breezes cosset us in a sweet cocoon and for the time being we can hide from the real world, the world we have left.
Appearances can be deceiving, I fully know. The sea can pull out and under, the sun can burn and devour, the rain and wind can flood and destroy.
Just so, I thought, appearances are often deceiving in the world we left – the world of wars and rumors of wars, of lawsuits, of greed, of lying, of fraud and breach of trust, of misuse and mismanagement, mis-this and mis-that, the twisting of truths. The media strikingly knows this full well as it colors stories to their liking. Right and wrong. Truth and falsity. Where is the line dividing them? Is the gray country in between so difficult to navigate?
Today’s Epistle was Paul’s wonderful passage about putting on the full armor of God:
My brethren, be strong in the Lord in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield offaith, where with ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of theSpirit, which is the word of God… (italics mine) Ephesians 6:10+
So the full armor is truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God. I try to recall these things as I maneuver through the confusing world about us, making my own small choices, thinking how could they possibly matter.
But they do matter. These choices protect us from the world’s discord and anarchy, from, indeed, death. How we chose to live our lives counts.
My stunning moment from last week came as a response from from one of my final draft readers in New Zealand. He is a language scholar and lay theologian for whom I have immense admiration and respect, and God has blessed me with his wisdom and excellent editorial eye, his suggestions after reading the first and sixth drafts of my novel-in-progress, The Magdalene Mystery. He sent me his most recent comments and included a stunning quotation for the book jacket. I am overwhelmed, and of course, deeply thankful.
My novel is about truth – how we know it, how we use it in our perception of the world, how it influences our choices in life. In a word, or rather phrase, how truth governs our lives.
As our world discards the idea of truth and embraces relativity, personal taste, subjectivism, each of us must take on the armor of God. Each of us must question our own choices, set them against standards of right and wrong, of righteousness. But whose standard? Whose authority? For Christians, the answer is simple: God’s. But how do we know his will? St. Paul gives us guidelines to help us discern. We learn how to love (the gospel of peace), we keep the faith (in Christ), and we absorb Holy Scripture as interpreted by the Church through which the Holy Spirit weaves. In this way we are protected from falsehood and the “wiles of the devil.” We are saved.
I feel more “armored” simply having read the Epistle, more ready to re-enter the real world of twists and turns that lie ahead. I shall be prepared to choose.