Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Friday, November 05, 2004

Tribute to Dorothy Day

If you don't like reading, don't take a class by Lee Camp. I enjoy reading, therefore I enjoy Camp's class. He usually assigns us either a book per week or approximately 200 pages from a photocopied book/handouts. Camp decided to bring us to a closer understanding of ecclesiology through a historical timeline. As the saying goes, "the road to the future runs through the past." We started with St. Benedict around the medieval time period followed by early reformist John Huss. Afterwards we moved on to the Protestant Reformation with Martin Luther, then studied the Anabaptists and continued further with John Wesley. The Restoration movement (which is my heritage) came next with a study from David Lipscomb, who started the college I now attend. From there we journey into the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well as the Confessing Church. This past week my readings have focused on a lady named Dorothy Day. I won't go into great detail about her (too much to write about), but I will say that this has been my favorite person to read. All of the other 9 books have included discussions about reforming the body of Christ. Every person we have read has challenged us in our own discipleship towards a man they called Jesus of Nazareth. Dorothy Day's writings never really included reforming the church or methods in discipleship to form a community. In all actuality, she wrote essays for a Catholic journal and served the poor. She was around the time of my grandparents (Great Depression era) and died when I was very young.

What her writing has taught me was following this man Jesus is not easy. She surrounded herself with the poor, the disenfranchised, the people on the edge of society. Yet in the midst of such poverty and pain and ugliness of life, she saw beauty. She said that the only way she could live this out was by seeing Christ in those people. Not only seeing Christ in them, but saying that they ARE Christ. She valued others and understood what it meant to be created in the image of God. She taught me what it meant to be holy, but not holier than thou. For Dorothy Day it became a choice: either give it all up and follow Jesus, or become a status quo cultural Christian. To be quite honest, I currently don't think I'm choosing the former. Why? Maybe I'm too comfortable with the luxuries of life. Maybe my stupidity says truly following Jesus is for those who are monks and living in areas that are foreign to the message of Christ. Maybe I think America is too comfortable and I should be put in a place where I'm in danger of persecution.

So what does Jesus mean by "carry your cross and follow me"? I think I know, but then there are days like today where I have no idea what it means. Am I truly putting my life on that path of being Jesus' apprentice? What must I give up? Should I live in poverty? Should I leave the country? What in my life is not like my Teacher?

In stead of leaving my thoughts with questions this morning, maybe I should listen to one who I should follow. "Love God with all your heart, you soul, you mind and your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself."