Be careful for nothing… (Philippians 4)
When I first heard this verse, in this robust King James rendering, it seemed almost blasphemous. (Is it possible the bible is far more blasphemous than we give it credit for?)
You see, being "careful for nothing" was opposed to most of my early life lessons–Sunday school lessons included. Life was about being careful. Certainly there were wonderful things about life but in order to enjoy their benefits it was necessary to set up proper physical, ethical and emotional securities. I learned this well enough but found that with it came the by-product anxiety.
Well, having just checked off another year…old enough now to navigate many of life’s machinations, kids grown and mostly self-reliant…and so on, I’m thinking I should be past worry. Ready even to return to the carefree(er) days of youth.
But I think I’ve gotten into a bit of a brooding habit. I can always find something to brood about.
I don’t want to worry. But it comes. And trying to force my way out only confirms and strengthens it.
I don’t want to tip-toe through life, but at times I do. I don’t want to be overly-apologetic, but sometimes I catch my self this way. It’s like a tick. A kind of self-punishment for some forgotten deed or omission.
I have been and can be, light on my feet. But I still need to learn more moves, more dance steps. I want to learn the discipline of buoyancy.
Still, I don’t simply want to be a water-strider on the pond of life. I want to dive under the surface more often. Feel the pull of depth and the mystery of darkness. I want to feel the mysterium tremendum at depth without escaping to false security.
I believe we all long to live at this height or depth. And this longing to be fearlessly present to something outside of ourselves tells us something crucial about ourselves.
It must be then that "carelessness" is a condition of Other-presence. It must be that "carelessness" is through openness to the Spirit’s presence. And perhaps this openness has to do with a certain inner-thankfuless.
We’re going to be rocked by cares in our lives. But we don’t have to live here. Maybe, at least partly, being full of care is something we do to ourselves through lack of thankfulness.
Maybe that’s why the rest of the verse says, …by prayer with thanksgiving be present to God (my paraphrase).
While cares will come, small moments of reflective thankfulness–moments that are always possible for most of us–will give worry its proper distance.