Can Rachel Wear White?

Tree of Life: Part Two

I want you to consider what will be the state of this castle, so beautiful and resplendent this Orient pearl, this tree of life, planted in the living waters of life–namely, in God–when the soul falls into a mortal sin. (Teresa of Avila: First Mansions, Chapter Two – emphasis mine)

Andy and Rachel were high school sweethearts. Shortly after their senior year Rachel discovered she was pregnant. Afraid of her parent’s reaction she hid her pregnancy as long as possible. When her parents found out, they were understanding but “needed to tell their pastor”.  The pastor said this was serious and needed to take it to the church board. The “wise men” of the board discussed this situation carefully, quoted scripture, prayed, feigned disbelief, and impressed each other with their wisdom. They finally concluded, as they always do, this was a “serious and public sin” requiring the offenders to confess their sin in front of the church. Having settled that issue the “wise men” moved to the next topic: Can the bride wear white at her wedding?

The last blog post introduced “viral sins”. A viral sin attacks the host and spreads through the community. In today’s story we find a viral sin, not with Andy and Rachel, but with the “wise men” of the church. They supported, if not embraced, a process that shames and condemns. When leaders reinforce or stay silent about condemning and shaming behaviors the virus spreads. The “wise men” believing they were planted by the clear, crystal waters of holiness were, in fact, drinking from the polluted waters of shame and condemnation. While these men probably did not get up one morning and decide to injure this young couple or their church — they did.

The response to stories like this is almost always outrage. How could this board be so callused? Strangely this is quickly followed by a caveat: “These leaders are a product of their system and only did what they knew to do — they could not have come to a different conclusion.” I disagree. As leaders we have a responsibility to transcend systemic enculturation. It is essential we create space to develop our own thinking rather than simply mirroring the institution. This distance allows us make course corrections in our own lives and gain wisdom to influence changes in whatever institution we are in. Reading is a good start. Outside perspectives give guidance. But most important, as leaders, we must gain insight that comes only through prayer, meditation, silence, and reflection. This will help us shape quality institutions and be a “tree of life” to those we lead.

Understand — through the stillness,
Act — out of the stillness,
Conquer — in the stillness,
‘In order for the eye to perceive color, it must divest itself of all colors’.   (Dag Hammarskjold)

Jesus Follower, Blogger, Public Speaker.

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Posted in 1st Mansions - Chapter 2, Stories and Parables
One comment on “Can Rachel Wear White?
  1. Esther Hizsa says:

    Thanks Dave. So true. We learn a different , more loving and God-honouring way to respond as we spend time in silence letting God love us. For me, it was a slow process that evolved over time and I am very thankful for it.

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