Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The passive stance, part 2

Passivity has a transcendent power that completes what activity cannot.

Years ago, when I was at theological college, I was assigned to a long placement at a church where the vicar asked me to mentor a member of his staff team. Years later, I met her at a conference, and she told me that the things I had shared had not been fully understood at the time, but had come to be understood and deeply valued later.

This pattern has been repeated several times. Each summer, I get to hang out with friends from the church where I served my curacy. More than one of them, on more than one occasion, has thanked me, saying, we didn’t understand what you brought at the time, but since you left we have come to do so.

This isn’t something special about me—or a particular problem with me, that requires additional time to decipher. It is the principle of passivity at work. That our greatest contribution happens after we are no longer active players, after we are gone.

We see this in those we love who have died. Death strips them of all the frustrations of our interactions, and we are left with a clarity as to what we most valued, and continue to value. Call it a legacy, that keeps having an impact on our lives.

I will feel it of my daughter, after she leaves home. Every time we move on, say from a place of work, we rehearse our death, and release the power of passivity into the lives of those around us.

This is as God has intended. Activity and passivity, wind and dust, together forming us, making us human.

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