My newsletter article this week:
Tuesday. Blessed Tuesday. The end of non-stop political commercials, and at least for me, hundreds of political e-mails a day. Tuesday is election day. If you need to find out where to vote you can go to the MN Secretary of State web site and find your polling place (click here). If you are not registered yet, you can still register at the polling place. You will need to bring a legal ID with you. For more on what kind of ID works, click here.
Now let me take this opportunity before you vote to tell you how I think you should vote. Vote for... well, you know I am not going to tell you who to vote for.
But how should you vote? I would suggest that you vote with discernment. Discernment is a spiritual skill that I allude to often on Sunday mornings. Where can we see, how can we see the presence of God in our midst? It is one of the spiritual tasks of our lifetime to learn to see God and to learn to listen for the voice of God in the midst of every moment of our lives. In every word we speak, in every action we take, God is present. Discernment is the spiritual skill of learning to see and hear the presence of God in the midst of the most ordinary events of our lives.
It would be nice, of course, if God made her presence known clearly in these moments. And it is certainly true that some people believe that he has. They believe that God has spoken clearly in the scriptures or in Jesus or in their ears. But I have never found it to be that simple. It has been my experience that the voice and presence of God is often hidden, even in the scriptures and in the life and message of Jesus, and certainly in the many voices that I hear speaking to me in my head (and don't tell me you don't hear voices in your head!).
Hearing the voice of God and experiencing the presence of God is also compounded by our inattention. We are easily distracted by our busy- ness, our culture (think of those political commercials), our undisciplined inner world. In fact I don't think there is anything automatic or simple about learning to see the presence of God.
Without the spiritual discipline of discernment. Learning to reflect on our own inner lives and motives. Learning to listen deeply to others. Learning to touch base with the faith stories and life stories that speak of values that transcend moments and lives and decades and scriptures but that also take shape in concrete words and actions that are unique to each moment.
What are these values? We can name them easily: love, justice, peace, beauty, grace... But learning to believe and see that in each and every moment of our lives we have an opportunity to experience them and make them come alive with our words and actions, that isn't so easy.
So my challenge to you on this weekend before election day is to spend some time practicing discernment. What deeply held values are shaping your decision? What emotion is carrying you into the voting booth? Fear, anger? Hope, love? How will God be present to you as you cast your ballot?