Everything happens within a context. Much of the time I find myself ignoring the context because I am confident I accurately see and understand the events unfolding before me. Frequently, far more often than not, my conclusions are wrong. I missed the context.
I am writing near the beginning of a new Jewish year, full of reflection and intent. Around me people are hustling to work, pushing to meet the commitments which always crowd the beginning of their days. The crisp fall days we have been experiencing have given way to a dreary humid overcast hanging day, reminding me far too much of the England I’ve left to the side for a short while. Colors blend, lights blur, and people silently give way to those in a hurry or in some other way handicapped.
The context becomes important for several reasons. Without it the concern expressed to a young Chinese man who tripped over a curb doesn’t seem extraordinary. A young child went out of his way to help, gathering the items which rolled this way and that. A police van stops to ask if they can help. Strangers reach out to each other; each reflecting the caring community which often hides in New York. Even a stranger helping a young woman walking her dog doesn’t seem unusual. She needs a Starbucks. The stranger is willing to help, even though the puzzled look strikes everyone as odd. His actions take on a frantic shift with the coming of his bus and the delay in getting her coffee.
A prophet of old wrote in the context of his time. As he begins he notes the context: “The vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw regarding Judah and Jerusalem during the times of the kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.” (Isaiah 1.1)
You and I live in a particular time and place. Today as I look at the particulars of life which color and provide the details, I find myself in a world desperate for hope, longing for acceptance, and thirsty for community. This is today.
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