What is mine to do?

Kindred in Christ,

During my three years in seminary, I had a very old laptop. Whenever I dared to open multiple browsers or run various programs as I worked on my grad school assignments, I would find my computer dramatically slowing down and even crashing—sometimes tragically causing me to lose several pages worth of writing! Each time I would be reminded that my computer could not handle focusing on so many things at once. I would thus be forced to discern what was the central task I needed to focus upon in a given moment.

Lately, with the continuation of the global pandemic, the wildfires on the west coast, the decimation of Haiti, the horrors we are witnessing in Afghanistan, the degradation of the environment, and the countless other sorrows, injustices and tragedies we are hearing about in the news and on social media each day, it can cause our spirits to become overwhelmed and to crash. For many of us, spiritually crashing either looks like spiraling into despair or become callous. Yet what if each of us are not being called to place our emotional and physical energy upon all things equally at a given moment? What if we are called to discern what is ours to focus upon each day, and pray for and encourage others who are called to focus upon other things?

This is the practice of realizing that we are not at the center of all things, nor can we hold all things equally at the same time. This is the wisdom the Apostle Paul speaks of when he reminds us that we are all different members of the same body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). The eye cannot do the tasks of the mouth, hand, foot or any of the other members, but rather must focus upon its own task of sight while supporting the other members who do a very different and equally important task of the body. What is the task you are being called to this day?

A two-part breath prayer that helps me with this daily discernment:

Inhale:

What is mine to do?

Exhale:

What is mine not to do?

Inhale:

God, bless my work this day.

Exhale:

God, bless the work of others this day. 

May this simple spiritual practice empower you to do your part for the sake of compassion and justice in our hurting world, while supporting others doing different work as well. And may it help keep you from spiritually crashing.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz