The Dividing Line
It's summer now. My thoughts travel back to another summer. My sister Janet and I had the "brilliant" idea that we should take jobs down @ the New Jersey shore and live the life of the people of 'the boards' (those who made their living from working on the boardwalk). It isn't really a good life for an older adult.... too many late nights and parties and struggling to get up the next day to go to work and oh, did I mention, still wanting a decent tan??
So, there we were in Seaside Heights, working at 2 different concessions: jewelry for her and candy/salt water taffy for me. That's how some money came in... not a lot. We were both young and relatively wild... I significantly more than my sister.
We lived in a boarding house with an assorted crew of lots of different types of people, most of them experimenting in the nomad life (if only for a summer). Dear God, what trouble we could get into..... again, me more than Janet and it was usually due to my burning desire to be noticed and to belong. There was exactly one exception: I befriended a young woman (let's call her Joanie) in the house who was pregnant and not married. On my time off Joanie and I would drive to the K-Mart in Toms River to buy baby clothes or just shop or have something to eat. I recall Joannie was quite smart, had read lots of books and was strikingly beautiful. Tall, long neck, easy smile. She did the world a favor and de-flowered my unibrow-- and my forehead has been grateful ever since.
Later in the summer my parents came down - as they always had - and I was called to an audience with them which would consist of them yelling and me yelling back. In a respite from the real screaming, my mother confronted me: 'What is this I hear about you hanging around with some girl - like that?? You just can't do that. People judge you by your friends and you were raised better than to hang out with someone trampy'.
Now, come to think of it, in my anonymous shore world of 1970, I factually was far more the tramp than I believe Joanie would ever be. But that piece of information escaped my mother. Somehow - in her mind - this fraternizing with the illegitmately pregnant was a far more serious infraction than the season's drug experimentation (though there wasn't much of that), my poor attempts to manipulate other people to like me (and sadly there was lots of that), or my general lack of consideration.
I was being lambasted for doing the right thing!!! And it wasn't something I contrived or thought up... I had done it automatically, based on what my heart dictated.
I saw Joanie, I felt her alienation, loneliness and fear. She had no family nearby... her body was going through a transformation that mine never would and it was very intense. In that place and time I stood with her. I stood in friendship with an outsider in society. And God again changed my life. While I was internally blocked off from my self-alienation, I could identify hers.... and grow.
Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Once I could identify with something greater - when I could lose my complete absorbtion with self and fulfilling my need to be loved - I began to find another life. The beginnings of the life I now lead. That life includes showing compassion and mobilizing action for those on the outside.
Doing a prophetic thing, speaking truth, acknowledging good: some of our jobs on this plane.
When you chose to take on these jobs you may find yourself near the dividing line - a line that separates you from those who would take a less risky way.
Step over that dividing line! Lose the life that you have known - choose Life, the life of Christ. You will be in very good company.