Here and Now: Courage

​Living in the present moment is living with “eyes wide open,” seeing into things so that their realities come into view (see Mark 8:18).  This kind of seeing gives us courage.

First and foremost, we gain the courage to become our true selves.  Knowing that we are God’s beloved children, we no longer desire or make use of secondary identifiers.  We conjugate our lives (as Evelyn Underhill puts it) through the verb “be,” not the verbs ” have” and “do.”  To be our authentic self is an act of courage in a world where associations, accolades, and assumptions create “safe spaces” between our personhood and the public.  Living here-and-now puts a stop to “looking good,” and roots us in the desire to be good, the soil from which the fruit of the Spirit grows.

With the “naked now” (as Richard Rohr calls it) identifying us, we are enlivened to act for the sake of others.  Speaking and acting for the common good is possible because we live responsively rather than reactively.  Having taken the time to stop, look, and listen in the present moment, we are able to recognize what Parker Palmer has called “the tragic gap” between what is and what ought to be.  He notes, “the people who achieve the greatest good are those who have the greatest capacity to stand in the tragic gap.” [1]

The prophets in every age exemplify this best. Using their x-ray vision of Spirit-inspired attentiveness, they expose what the “movers and shakers” prefer to keep hidden.  But as Walter Brueggemann points out repeatedly, they do not stop with exposure (judgment), they move on to speak and act for justice (i.e. where everyone is given what they need to thrive) in the larger context of hope.

But here’s the point for today: prophets are not a specialized category of persons.  They are any of us who are willing to live in the present moment with the courage it gives us.  The “kingdoms of this world” are only challenged and changed into the Kingdom of God through courage.

[1] Parker Palmer, ‘A Hidden Wholeness’ (Josey-Bass, 2004), 180.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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