It is a matter of scale, I think. The closer you are to something the bigger it is. The ant that scurries across my kitchen counter could be easily overlooked unless I happen to have on my reading glasses. Under that magnification, it unsettles me — looking akin to something that escaped Jurassic Park.
Our sins look big to us and they should be. The headlines are full of them and they cannot be overlooked, nor should they be. My goodness — what a mess humans have made of things. Where is the garden? Where is the sweet Shalom that is our birthright? What have we done?
And that realization should bring us to scale as well. Much of the mess that we make of things comes from thinking that we are either way more than we really are – more important, powerful, entitled, privileged, deserving; or way less than we really are – unimportant, helpless, shameful, undeserving. Thomas Merton, once said that it “takes heroic humility to be yourself and to be nobody else but the [person] God intended you to be.” Overly focusing on ourselves, caught up with either our successes or our failures can devolve into a kind of idolatry where we put ourselves and not God at the center of things.
The release that Julian of Norwich has found, the great joy in which she speaks, comes when we are to scale. Joy come when we calibrate ourselves to simply being the people God created us to be — embracing with ease all that is great and all that is not so great about us. When we are to scale we are free, free to see our sins as they are and do something about it. Free to set down worry and fear. Free to join in and be a part of “the working of God’s goodness.”
May we have heroic humility to come to scale and see ourselves as we truly are so that we may be freed to join in the working of God’s goodness!