In a conversation after church last Sunday, a congregant commented, “I don’t like having to be dependent on other people.” Can you sympathize with that? I can!
I had two surgeries on my heel in recent years, and I can tell you I HATED having limited mobility and having to rely on others for help. I mean I could not drive a car for months. Nor could I manage taking the bus or riding a bike. I could not walk our dogs. I couldn’t do my laundry because that involved going into the garage which meant going down one step. You get the idea.
So this comment, “I don’t like having to be dependent on other people,” really hit home with me. I like to think that I am competent, and capable, and responsible. I like to think that I can manage things on my own. And not only that. I like to think that I can do things to help others. Have you felt this way?
But of course, it is all a big delusion. Because we are, all of us, every single one of us, dependent on each other. Our food, our clothes, our homes, our cars, our books, our electronic devices, our toys, our medications, and so much more, all come to us thanks to others. I cannot provide all of those things for myself.
And then there is the social and emotional support that we need from each other. We can’t thrive as human beings without interaction with others. We are designed that way. During this covid time, with the lock down and isolation, people, especially elders and children and those who are vulnerable in other ways, suffered greatly. People withered and languished like plants with no water. There is still so much care that is needed to help us recover and regroup and heal from the trauma of loneliness and loss.
The idea that we are self-reliant, pull yourself up by your boot straps, make it on our own; it’s all a lie. Delusion. And when we let the reality of this truth emerge and become clear, we see all that we have to be grateful for. All that we are being given. How bound up we are with so many other people in a beautiful tapestry of interwoven dependency and well-being. We are dependent on thousands upon thousands of strangers the world over that we will probably never meet. Yet they are supporting us. How crazy is that?
And we can know about this. Animals, plants, bacteria, fungi, nature is also part of the web of mutual dependency, but nature will never be conscious of that. Our dogs will never know that they are provided for. Nor will they know what they provide. But humanity is the one species that is capable of having a consciousness of our interdependence.
No, we don’t like having to be dependent on other people. Being dependent can diminish our sense of dignity and independence. But how much more beautiful to know that we are tied together in an intricate multihued tapestry of interdependent life! Far more than we could ask for or imagine. Not left to our own devices. Thank goodness there is a crazy wildness in mercy!
Think of a time when you had to depend on someone else. When you were in need of help from another person. Thank of a time when you were able to give needed help to someone. Think of someone you will never meet yet who helps you to have what you need. We have a special bond as human beings – our need for one another and our awareness of that need. Let us give thanks that we are dependent upon one another and that that need makes us one human family in community with all of Creation. Amen.