Lent is traditionally a season of contemplating the Ten Commandments, or words of life. How many of them can you call to mind? Here’s the tenth:
You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Yours, and theirs. The inability to be happy for another’s blessings, or thankful for your own.
Social media thrives on covetousness. It is your duty to present an enviable life. Shiny. With the dust of the wilderness filtered out.
But that dust is the stuff of life. That dust is you. Dust, that has been blessed, with relationship, to know partnership in life’s struggles, to create society, to care for creation. The secret to contentment is ... having been set free from envy.
And there is a disturbing presence here, though, to be fair, it has already turned up in the fourth word: [your neighbour’s] male or female slave. Are these not a people set free from slavery? Why, then, is the expectation that they have slaves? Is this simply a turning of the tables, a re-shuffling of injustice, not a transformation of society? Is this god no better, morally, than the rest?
Ambiguity is the condition of life, between the house of slavery and the land of promise. We never get to sign-off the words of life — job done! They turn us over when we make such claim. So do not covet the house, the society, that seems to have it made. They still have work to do (and rest to enter into on the way) as much as you.
Where is your ambiguity?