MAKING THE BEST OF LIFE
By Rev. Dr. Arthur Chang
Taking a break from the work you love or dislike provides a time for reflection. Our life is vastly our past and in our relational world if we do not come to terms with our past the present will be apt to be meaningless and regretful.
Process theologian Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki speaks of the three powers of freedom.
Freedom means the ability to participate at some level in what one becomes. If we take freedom seriously, then we must talk about three powers of creation.
1. There is the power of the past, which simply means that when and where we are makes a difference to who we can become. We must take account of these past influences, because we simply do not exist in a vacuum. We exist relationally. In a sense, we take the creative influences of the past into ourselves in every moment.
2. However, we also take the creative power of God into ourselves at every moment. In this second creative power, God offers us a future, a way of becoming oneself that is not quite like any other way ever achieved before. God’s creativity is the power of transformation, of hope, of a new future. God’s influence toward the future takes account of the past that affects us, offering a way of dealing with that past.
3. The third creative power, of course, is ourselves. Finally, we decide what we will become. We are responsible for dealing with THE ACTUAL PAST received from the world and THE POSSIBLE FUTURE received from God.
Not every negative act from the past will have the world-shattering impact of 9/11. The 9/11 horror has left deep scars upon the American psyche and on the psyche of countless people around the world. How is it possible for small countries to hurt us so profoundly? The January 6 uprising also shows that while the dangers from outside our country are vast, we may be even more vulnerable from within.
Living with fear is never a good option especially if it is fear of our own people. Living in peace is the spiritual promise for people who conceptualize our world relationally.
The power of the past means reflecting upon how we may be contributing to the stresses and fears of others, within and without our country, and jointly seeking better options as we sit and reason together. Humans are apt to be suicidally focused when facing overwhelming problems and poor opportunities for resolving them. This was evident on 9/11. Furthermore, reading reports from some of the participants from the January 6 uprising, we hear that many were prepared to die for their cause. Learning from the power of the past is vital if we are to make wise adjustments in our future actions.
The second creative power, recognizing God is always offering us a future, shows that life is not fixed. We can change it. To change is to create. God takes great delight in seeing us progress. Progress is process and process is reality. The God of the universe is not seeking perfection of us. God is seeking progress by right action in our process.
The third creative power is deciding what we wish to become. Our lives are co-creations with God. This is true of the whole universe. This is the meaning of living in a relational universe. We exist in relationship to God. This means we affect God and God affects us. This also means, God cares about us.
By understanding and using these three creative powers, we will be making the best of life.