I’m half way through my first semester at Loyola and just finished a midterm exam for Introduction to Theology and an exegesis paper for New Testament. You may be asking, “What’s an exegesis paper?” It’s when you choose a piece of scripture and examine it from various points of view, i.e. language, socioeconomic, politics, placement in the bible, audience, who is telling the story and what is the moral or point of the story. In other words, it’s context and how it applies to our lives today. It was a great exercise in looking at familiar stories from a different point of view using commentaries from African American and West African theologian. It’s all about the context.
A friend of mine moved to the United States from Puerto Rico during the summer and his four year old loved being outside in the sunshine. When the sun drenched days of summer were replaced with sunny but bone chilling days of winter, his son still wanted to go outside, but it was too cold. With the persistence of a four year old he continually begged his father to let him go outside. Finally his mother said, “Let him out outside, he’ll find out!” Reluctantly, my friend opened the door for his son, who immediately returned exclaiming, “The sun doesn’t work in Chicago!” It’s all about the context.
Today in church I spoke with a friend whose mother died a couple of months ago. I was checking in with her as it’s been my experience that everyone is around immediately following a death, but six months later everyone has forgotten. She said someone recently asked her, “Are you still mourning?” Still mourning! We talked about how you mourn for months and years, as mundane everyday occurrences unearth yet another wave of sorrow. We agreed that no matter how well the intentions, if you haven’t lost a parent, you can’t empathize with the loss. Understanding the process of mourning depends on the point of view or context.
So I’ve decided part of my Lenten discipline is to listen to people who witness life in a different context than my own. Different political views, life style choices and dietary selections (vegan?); and especially those who live in circumstances not of their choice, socioeconomic status, access to education and health care, and – well, the list could go on.