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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Help! I have Fallen and Can't Get Up

I think most of us recall that commercial (around since 1987). It is an elderly woman, laying on the floor, crying out for help. It is a remarkably effective commercial because it captures the horror of helplessness. The human body is a remarkable construction and it is fairly resilient In time, however, it breaks down. I am at that turning point where that breakdown gets more serious. The eyes go. The hearing goes. The muscles ache and the connective tissues break. The mental and emotional stores are more easily depleted. The future looms as a less friendly place to be.

"Help! I have fallen and cannot get up!"

That cry raises a question which is then answered: Life Alert.
Life Alert is the answer; and the question is "Who will come to my aid in my time of need?"

But, of course, some falls are beyond Life Alert's power. They can only "alert" someone, after all, they are not in the healing business. They are in the 'security' business. Security in an insecure world.

One tenant of the Christian faith, particularly in the West, is "the Fall." St. Augustine, whose feast is today, ironically, is one of the theological masterminds of this doctrine. Smart guys like him work out the implications of Biblical revelation, always in conjunction with a keen intellect (reason) and observation of real life (experience) and in dialogue with the masters who have gone before us (tradition). God's Spirit is also at work in all this, leading, guiding, enlightening...

"Fallen-ness" is both a theological datum and a human condition. We are good and bad, a terrible mix which produces all manner of blessed moments and diabolical curses. This week I read that the "Teacher of the Year" was charged with child abuse! Really??? How could such disparity co-exist in one person? A mystery beyond comprehension (but less than surprising when we consider our own inconsistencies, right?).

The daily prayer routine of any person should include the cry "Help! I am fallen and cannot get up."
I must be raised up (passive voice) by the strength of another. I need help. Period.

We are victims and perpetrators all. Damaged and damaging. Blind to our own errors and hyper-aware of  any slight we receive. Resistant to God's will and resentful that He has not done what we want!

Who can help?
Thousands of years ago someone wrote this poem/prayer. We call it Psalm 121. (from Alter's Translation)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains,  from where will my help come?
My help is from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth...
The Lord guards you from all harm, He guards your life.
The Lord guards your going and your coming, now and forever.

And in our fallen state, realizing that we have fallen and we can not get up, we must decide if, in faith, we will cry out for help. Will we trust? Will we believe that God guards our life and guards us from harm, as we lay here, fallen?

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