You are the salt of the earth.
You are the light of the world.
~Matthew 5:13, 14
In a recent interview, Robin Wall Kimmerer notes that in Western culture, humility “is to be meek and mild and dispossessed.” In her own Potawatomi way of thinking it is bigger and more stable: “Edbesendowen is the word that we give for it: somebody who doesn’t think of himself or herself as more important than others.”
It’s not that you are not important, she clarifies, just that everyone else, everybody is as important, which “creates a “sense of vitality and community and family.” She continues, “Like, dang, aren’t we lucky to be surrounded by these genius bats and incredible fireflies? Humility that brings that sort of joy and belonging as opposed to submission…”
Kimmerer wants to see Fox news, but not the one you might think:
“What if we were paying attention to the natural world? I’ve often had this fantasy that we should have Fox News, by which I mean news about foxes. What if we had storytelling mechanisms that said it is important that you know about the well-being of wildlife in your neighborhood? That that’s newsworthy? This beautiful gift of attention that we human beings have is being hijacked to pay attention to products and someone else’s political agenda. Whereas if we can reclaim our attention and pay attention to things that really matter, there a revolution starts.”
Jesus is seeking nothing less than a revolution as he continues his sermon in Matthew inviting all who hear to consider the light that shimmers from them and their equally radiant neighbor. This, as Kimmerer’s Potawatomi culture understands so well, is the soil that weeds out the toxic systemic assumptions that prevented Tyre Nichols from getting home that January 7th night. It grows the kind of justice that springs up healing in body and soul: bread for the hungry, good news to the poor.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
~Isaiah 58:5a, 6, 8a
Enter into worship.[i]
Readings: Isaiah 58:1-9a † Psalm 112:1-9 † 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 † Matthew 5:13-20
About the Art: Laura James has been working as a professional artist and illustrator for over twenty-five years. In addition to painting sacred images from various religions, she portrays women, families, and scenes of everyday life; blending intricate patterns, text, vibrant colors and sometimes surreal imagery into what she calls “art for the people.”
[i] James, Laura. Sermon on the Mount, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57891 [retrieved January 23, 2023]. Original source: Laura James, https://www.laurajamesart.com/collections/religious/.
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