The Examen and Gratitude

This was a short tutorial piece that I wrote last week. Some may find it thought provoking, although I don’t provide a lot of context as I present it as it was submitted, and the lecturer obviously has prior understandings.

St Ignatius was one of the first stops on my faith journey when I was wondering what ‘this God thing’ was all about. I see discernment, and Ignatian prayer as both important, because they are real-life ‘tools’; mechanisms that we can use both for ourselves, and when we are seeking to help others find their own ways through life.

While theoretical underpinnings are vital, it’s important to learn the actual skills we will need in  a possible future ministry career, and while I don’t know what is taught in other units, if its anything like teaching, we often do not learn actual practical skills until we are on the ground, so the speak. This lecture reminded me that I need to revisit St Ignatius as I think that his ideas are very real-world applicable.

‘Gratitude’ is huge amongst my networks at the moment; Instagram, Facebook, and journalling communities, both faith based and secular, have been extolling the virtues of making gratitude a deliberate part of our lives for several years now.

Gratitude is, of course, built into the Examen, the Ignatian prayer.  The second of five steps that asks us to see the day as a gift from God and give thanks for it. But, in a circular fashion, the very act of practising thanks help us see the good; ‘the Examen instils gratitude (1)’ It’s now seen as having a host of mental and physical benefits (2) but the virtues of this concept were being extolled at least 450 years ago.

While the act of practising gratitude seems to be useful and life affirming however it is performed, would extra layers be added if people practised the whole Examen? Looking at what happened through the day. Where we shone, but also where we can do better; where we fell short of the standards that we set for ourselves. Is practising gratitude on its own enough, or is it somehow symptomatic of ‘me’ culture, just looking at what life serves us that we find pleasing. Maybe, when we hear people say that they ‘don’t know how to pray’ (as I hear often), we should be offering the Examen as a first point of call.

[1] Manney, Jim, A simple life changing prayer, Loyola Press, 2011, 36.

[2] http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/expandinggratitude/

Hopefully this will be the last time I talk about being an atheist.

Because I think that I need to move on from that.

About two weeks ago, I decided that I need to stop defining myself as ‘someone who used to be an atheist’. I felt that, in some way, it stopped me fully identifying with Christianity, and gave me an escape clause to avoid fully investing myself. Using my history, or thought patterns, or whatever, as an excuse for not necessarily embracing everything about the faith. And being known as ‘the one who used to be an atheist’ is also a handy way to keep myself a little apart from other people too and maybe it does alter the way people perceive me, and how seriously they take me as a Christian? I decided that I would separate myself from that part of my life and not use it, as I have done here mainly but also in other areas, as a way to define myself.

So obviously three days after I made that decision, I was asked to tell my conversion story at church. So essentially anyone who didn’t know I was an atheist at church now does. Ha.  I’m assuming that there is some sort of divine timing link between these two things but hey, it could be an absolute coincidence.

Here is my little talk. It’s very different writing something to be spoken as opposed to something to be read. I have put off actually writing a concise version of my story because it just seemed too hard, but being given a two day lead time and a 5 minute limit meant that I couldn’t be too particular or finicky; I just had to get something down on paper eventually. Anyway, I’m not unhappy with it; anything it lacks in nuance was made up for by laughs so lets call that a win.

Occasionally I’ll see someone that I haven’t seen for 5 or 10 years, and, during the catch up, I might mention that I’m a Christian now. After the person has laughed nervously and assumed that I’m joking, they will inevitably say ‘oh my God’ (and then they will apologise for saying oh my god) How did that happen?? And I don’t really know what to say except ‘God happened’.

The story of how I became a Christian doesn’t involve a sudden Road to Damascus revelation. And it doesn’t involve getting saved from a life of debauchery or anything interesting like that. It just involves a small quiet persistent voice that wouldn’t leave me alone or give up on me.

See, I was an atheist. And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God but it completely happy for those who do, like my husband. I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get. This started early; in Grade 3 my best friend and I staged a revolt and refused to attend Scripture, where a nice elderly volunteer woman got us to colour in pictures of Jesus every week. We sat outside and felt superior and enlightened. And I’m sorry to say that that is a pattern that continued for the next 30 or so years.

I can’t exactly remember how things started to change, but I do know that, over time, something began to happen. Everything in my life was going along nicely, but something certainly shifted. I started to wonder ‘what if?’  What if there is something more than what we see around us. What if we are more than just our body? Could all the beliefs that I have built my life on, been wrong? Probably not, but what if?

So I decided to buy a Bible. The only familiarity I had with the Bible was from the bits that are quoted in the Life of Brian and I didn’t even know where to find one. I finally did, in Ellison Hawker. It was pink fake snakeskin, which would not have been my first choice, but I smuggled it home in a brown paper bag.

Now I’d love to say that I opened it to some significant passage and the heavens opened and it all became clear to me, but that didn’t happen. I think I read a bit of it, was quite bored by what I found, then put it on the shelf. I remember thinking ‘Well that’s the end of that then. That’s not for me. I tried though.

But that wasn’t the end of it, of course. I know now that God spent the next few years slowly working on me, breaking down my judgements and preconceptions and stereotypes. I found myself moving from atheism to a kind of hopeful agnosticism; I didn’t know if there was a God or not but I was doing my best to find out. What I needed, in order to believe, I told God, was a divine revelation. Some kind of vision or Jesus moment that would leave me in no doubt. Then I’d become a Christian. I tried to boss God around a fair bit at that stage. It didn’t work, surprisingly enough.

5 years ago I decided to step things up a bit. I would go to church. Now those of you who have grown up in the church may find that being stressed about buying a Bible or attending a church a bit silly, but you need to understand that I knew no Christians. My family were and are all solid atheists and I didn’t have any Christian friends. I had absolutely no idea where to go. I knew that the Uniting Church had female ministers and was big on social justice and didn’t think they spoke in tongues, so here I came.

My conversion experience was long and convoluted; it went forwards and it went back ward and involved much more swearing and throwing things that is probably appropriate to talk about here. I fought God really hard. I continued to put all sorts of demands and expectations on the way things should be, and the way God should help me to believe. I made it very difficult and for a long time I refused to believe things unless I understood them and could explain them neatly with a flow chart. But God waited patiently for me; every time I packed my bible and my books away in a box and swore that this was all ridiculous and just wasn’t going to work, I’d sulkily get them out again a week later, grumbling about how I didn’t know why I was bothering, and how it was a complete waste of time, God would smile at me and said ‘but you’re doing it, aren’t you?’

It was when I realised that I needed to move beyond knowing about God, and concentrate instead on actually knowing God that things really began to change. I still don’t know how prayer works. And I still don’t understand why there is so much suffering in the world. And I still probably don’t agree with the perspectives that most well-known Christian apologists have on these topics. But while these were once reasons to keep me away from belief, I now know that not having all the answers is completely alright. It’s not a weapon to disprove faith. I’m fairly sure that I’m not going to have much clarity on those issues during this life time. I don’t really need to. What I do need to do is read the words of Jesus and love unconditionally and sit with the knowledge that mystery and unknowing are just part of the fact that, at the moment, we see through a glass, darkly.

And that’s good enough for me now.

Plans and such.

(I’m calling it; that is the worst post name I’ve ever come up with. By miles)

This week, I began my second year of studying to become an aged-care chaplain. It will take a while; I can only fit in a certain amount of study between work and the boys, and although I am not type-A in any way shape or form, I am a mature aged student, and you know how we like to do all the reading and ask all the questions and get the best mark that we possibly can.

All of the volunteer work that I’ve done in the last 15 years or so has been in aged-care facilities , so when I decided that I wanted my next career to be ‘something church-y’, it made sense to look towards chaplaincy. Who knows, I may be simply dreadful at it and fail miserably, but I intend to find out either way.

(On the topic of aged-care, my Grandmother turns 95 today. Her father was at the Gallipoli landing and my children get to spend time with her regularly. That’s an amazing connection with history right there)

There’s one unit that I’m studying that I’m really excited about. It’s called ‘Introduction to Formation for Ministry’ and it looks to me like The Perfect Subject. From what I can tell, it’s concerned with how different people have grown in their Christian identity (by studying biographies, etc) and then connecting this to an understanding of how we ourselves can grow in our own faith, life and in serving others. The lecturer specifically said ‘This isn’t going to be about navel-gazing; it’s about growing in Christ’, but I’m pretty certain I can make it all about me without anyone noticing *.

My excitement about this subject contrasts nicely with another one that I enrolled in. On reading that the major assignment would be (to paraphrase) ‘a case study of a specific congregation or organisation, focussing particularly on understandings of leadership, the way the leadership team(s) function, decision-making processes and the model of governance’, and would rely on interviews, discussions and recommendations for change, I withdrew in about 3 seconds flat. I’ll concentrate on my nice little spiritual formation unit for now, thank you very much; one that avoids talking to actual people too much.

Yes, I realise that there might be a slight disconnect between an avoidance of that, and wanting to become a chaplain. But I’m fairly sure that this is something I’m being called to do, so we will see. My sister has asked me if I can sit down with her and answer lots of questions that she has about Christianity and faith in general. She is worried though that she might ask ‘really stupid, or just offensive questions’. I pointed out to her that that was pretty much the position I was ten years ago and I can’t really imagine anything that she could say that would offend me, but hey, she can be quite direct, so who knows?

I’ll report back on how I go. Maybe I’ll be able to get my first WON A SOUL FOR JESUS bumper sticker. It’s on my bucket list, after all.

 

 

 

*I’m joking, seriously.

The Unprotected Life.

I’ve had a week of being scared. And of trying to convince people that I’m not scared. My son, Jasper, who was born with club feet and has had multiple surgeries, seems to be getting worse. In that he is in a lot of pain and has trouble walking. So we are taking him to see his specialist in Melbourne next week to see what’s going on. And when I googled his condition and deterioration and further treatments, I discovered that sometimes it ends in double amputation.

And then yesterday he had some strange, enormous pains, and fainted twice in ten minutes, so we ended up in the emergency department. And the doctor told me that they needed to x-ray his chest to make sure that it was nothing ‘sinister’, as they had no idea what was going on. So I, who does tend to catastrophise, admittedly, spent an hour thinking that he had some kind of bone cancer. He doesn’t, it’s probably some weird muscle spasm but they’re not really sure. He also just seems to be someone who faints. In fact, that’s why he is now deaf. He was knocked unconscious 3 years ago and sustained damage that has caused moderate, but permanent, deafness.

But I don’t feel like I can take these fears and worries to people because then I’ll have to deal with their feelings and concerns. Why is it that when we need to share with people, we end up having to look after them? Or is that just me? It’s easier not to tell people things when you know that they’re going to fall apart in front of you, and then you have to be coping for an extra person, as well as for yourself and your children… Being guarded means you don’t have to hold your own feelings up for examination by other people.

I haven’t been reading during the last week; watching The Office all night is just easier. But I picked up a novel this afternoon that I bought some time ago called Chasing Francis; A Pilgrim’s Tale, and started to skim. I’ll go back and concentrate and underline and take notes when my mind is more settled. But it talks about how we need to tell our stories, with all their ‘shadows and fog, so people can understand their own…trying to figure out how to follow the Lord Jesus in the joy and wreckage of life’.

It talks about living a life (Franciscanism specifically, but lets expand it, hey?) thats ‘dangerously open, revealing all that we genuinely are, and receiving all the pain and sorrow the world will give back in return’.

Aquinas described two kinds of souls- the magna animi and the pusilla animi. The first is open, allowing space for the world to enter and find Jesus. The latter is the defended heart. Guarded, suspicious and closed, viewing everything as a potential threat and an enemy waiting to attack.

Maybe sharing our brokenness and our fears with people is the only way that we can authentically connect. In our world of #soblessed status updates, have we have lost the real connection of exposing our souls to others for fear of judgement, or for fear of being known too much.

I’m almost 100% convinced that my catch phrase of ‘everything’s fine, thanks’, is not going to be altered by these musings, but it’s something to think about…

 

Nadia, my new favourite person, in a totally non-stalky manner.

I’m deeply smitten with Nadia Bolz-Weber at the moment. I think that I’ve highlighted about 80% of Accidental Saints; Finding God in All the Wrong People and I really appreciate the fact that she clearly wrote the book specifically and just for me, which was considerate.

Even though she ministers to, and often writes for, the marginalised and those on the fringes, and I couldn’t be more un-persecuted, white, straight, and middle class, she reaches everyone, I think (although I do say fuck and am tattooed and my sarcasm level is perpetually at a 10, so maybe we are totally in synch).

Rather than just quote huge swathes of it (because you know I want to), I’ll just point to two of her articles that I love;

Sermon on Baptism and the Devil represents a perspective that I hadn’t really considered,

and

The Parameters We Prefer Jesus to Work Under, about how we need to spend less time defending positions and more time appreciating God’s love.

Ok, I’m going to just have to quote a little bit from that last article…

A couple weeks ago I got to hear Catholic theologian James Allison talk about how we think faith is about striving – keeping parameters, calling people out for not having it right, spiritual practices, doctrinal purity …  whatever – but that really faith is about relaxing. Specifically, relaxing in the way we do when we are with a friend who we know for certain is fond of us. We don’t have to strive around them and we somehow still become our best self – funny, spontaneous, free. Allison suggests that faith is trusting so much that God is fond of us that we just fricken relax.

Seriously good stuff.

What does baptism really mean?

First of all, I’m going to talk about baptism for a while, and then I’m going to ask for your opinion. So this will be one of those posts that needs other people’s feedback to make it complete.

Just so you know.

And I think that this might be a little bit self indulgent, so if that makes you roll your eyes and go ‘first world problems’, then head on over to these great Countess of Grantham gifs and I’ll see you next post.

So, I’ve been thinking about baptism lately. And I’ve been thinking that it’s something I would probably like to do. And what it means.

Is baptism mainly about belonging? About belonging to the faith, tracing back to the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul. And about belonging to a church.

But a church that isn’t, in its most pure sense, a building. Church is a people. A disparate and eclectic and imperfect and wonderful people trying to bring about their best version of heaven on earth, while also trying to navigate their own lives, and other peoples lives, and the tricky bit where everything intersects and what do we say, and how do we say it and what happens then?

People are fantastic. I know that I joke that I’m a bit of a misanthrope, but I’m really not. I love people. I like to be challenged and to connect and to question and be questioned, and to spend time with the energy and the ideas and the stimulation of others.

But what I don’t like is to be exposed. And I don’t like the walls to go down too far. Because you can connect with people deeply, and forge friendships and make a pretty good go of life without opening up yourself too much.

I know that some people would say that you can’t, but you can.

But I don’t really think that you can say, in front of a group of people;

I repent of my sins…

I turn to Christ…

I commit myself to God…

Without pretty much exposing yourself completely. Don’t you think?

I’ve read that it’s an ‘outward sign’ of an expression of faith, which immediately puts my back up. Outward sign? What, for other people? An expression of faith for other people to accept?

Or maybe it’s much more than that. It’s about God and I. But I thought God and I were doing pretty well. Will getting baptised cause me to be anything in God that I am not already?

I suppose I’m a bit confused at what it’s all about.

Because it will take a bit of interior realigning for me to get there. Which I can do, of course, but it would take some work.  But doing something just because it’s what people ‘do’ when they are a christian isn’t something that I can connect with on an authentic level.

So what is it all about? Do you think it’s necessary? What does baptism mean to you?

A slightly ranty atonement post.

This post is one of those ones where I’m basically clarifying my stance on certain issues for my own elucidation. For me it’s important that I can clearly articulate my own take on certain key issues. I know that many people are fine with things just being all mysterious but I need to get things relatively clear in my own head from time to time.

It’s no secret that the whole idea of substitutionary atonement makes me very cranky and I find it completely incompatible with every thing I know to be true about a loving God.

When I was an atheist, the idea of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins was a prime example of the delusional thinking of Christians. As an almost- Christian the idea of substitutionary atonement was still a huge issue for me. But gradually I came to realise that substitutionary atonement wasn’t an absolute belief within the faith. There was also the moral influence theory of atonement- the belief that positive moral change is the ultimate goal of Christianity.

In fact, this theory is one of the oldest views of atonement and was the dominant one during the second and third centuriesThis is a pretty important point, hey? If the people who lived closest to the actual time of Jesus had firm beliefs regarding what his life was about, then it certainly bears a closer examination.

Jesus’ life was so fundamentally about social justice, yet his whole death was ultimately about our sins and a blood sacrifice to a vengeful god? (insert scornful swearword here). What a way to devalue everything that he stood for and everything that he tried to achieve. The Gospels are chock full of directives to us about how to live a righteous life, yet when it comes down to it we don’t have to actually do any of those things at all? He died just to absolve us of sins and that’s the message we should take away from his life?

Rubbish.

Although I shouldn’t dismiss the whole sin thing quite so off handedly. Absolutely we need saving, but it’s more about saving us from our acceptance of oppressive systems, from our complacency and from the fact that we seldom do nearly as much as we could to bring about real change, confronting injustice and taking on the responsibility of bringing about God’s Kingdom here and now. If we do sin, then we sin by ignoring the clear teachings of Jesus.

Look, God didn’t need his wrath assuaged to be replaced by mercy after Jesus’ execution on the cross. What kind of a vengeful prick does that make God? You don’t punish your other children by killing one of them to make yourself feel better.

Jesus advocated moral change. He spoke of the world that is to come; the world that we could bring about if people took his message seriously. His teachings and examples push us onward to try and live out his message. People, and then societies, can move towards this, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

For acting in the greater good, dismissing his own safety, and preaching a radical message of societal transformation, Jesus was killed by the Roman Empire (well, it was actually sedition) in an appalling and shameful way. The resurrection shows us that even death cannot separate us from God’s love.  That whatever you face and however you are challenged while striving for justice in the world is insignificant when it all comes down to it. Even if the worst happens to us, God will still be there to love us and lift us up.

One of God’s chief commandments is not to kill. While God didn’t ‘need’ Jesus to die, it served to demonstrate what was supposed to be the last example of religiously condoned violence. The end of the sacrificial system; the end of redemptive violence. Jesus’s death is part of a much wider picture and frame work than the penal substitution theory would have it. Jesus isn’t reduced to to sacrificed lamb. That darn Sermon on the Mount actually meant something after all.

While I’m not going to proof text and play Bible passage tennis to support my argument, there is absolutely a firm biblical foundation for this view. Many New Testament passages allude to a final judgement that concerns moral conduct. The Gospels are essentially chock full of how to be a moral person. Much of what Jesus said concerns this. Yes, Paul did talk about the fact that salvation is by faith and the fact that ‘works of the law’ are not what we would be striving for but if it’s a preach-off between Jesus and Paul, then I know which side I’ll be on. (As a side-note, Hebrews, the book in which much of the blood sacrifice talk can be seen, may not have been written by Paul at all which detracts from it’s importance if it is true).

Next up, universal salvation! It’s just party time here at the moment, isn’t it?

Slightly awkward.

I wish that I was vaguely skilled at writing book reviews. There are so many books that have been important to me on this whole ‘spiritual journey’ caper that I would love to be able to honour and do justice to. But sadly my review writing skills atrophied at about age 11 and will never move past ‘a great book for girls of all ages who love ponies and adventure!!’

But of course it’s been a series of fits and starts; reading one book that stated firmly and authoritatively that if you couldn’t accept substitutional atonement then there was no place for you within the faith set me back quite a bit, believe me. But eventually I came to see that what I thought was my own substandard and cobbled together theology of ‘less original sin and more moral influence’ wasn’t just ‘mine’ at all, and if fact actual (gasp) real Christians had thought along these lines for hundreds of years. The voices that are evangelising the loudest within our culture at the moment aren’t necessarily the bearers of the ultimate ‘truth’, apparently.

Who would have thought it?

There are a great many different schools of thought amongst those who are, at the heart of it, ‘followers of Christ’ and some of the elements that I’d thought were deal breakers are, in fact, not. But, just like a marriage, even if you don’t like bits of it, it’s the whole that’s important, isn’t it? If you get too bogged down in the detail of what doesn’t work, then you miss the overwhelming completeness of what does.

Reading ‘Convictions‘ by Marcus Borg in early December brought all the ideas that hadn’t quite connected yet together for me, and helped me realise in a quiet and unspectacular way that first, I actually am a Christian and secondly, I’m not embarrassed about it. I’ll let you decide which of those is a bigger deal…

Anyway, this is a bit awkward. Let’s just pretend it never happened and carry on as normal except for the fact that I’m a christian now, ok?

Act Justly, Tony.

Like many Australians I’ve been increasingly dismayed at Tony Abbott’s leadership of this country, and the decisions being made in his name which are resulting in the heartless treatment of the vulnerable and at-risk in society. The United Nations this week found that Australia’s detention of refugees, including children, is ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ which is forbidden by international law (report here)

That’s a fairly big call, isn’t it? A supposedly advanced and civilised country treating people in way that actually breaks international law and sends asylum seekers back to countries where they have a ‘substantial risk of torture’. We are acting really badly not by some arbitrary yardstick created by the lefties of Australia but by international standards.

And I’ve been wondering how a christian man, a man who spent three years training to be a priest, can have moved so far away from the message of the gospels. How does this happen? How can someone who believes in god and believes that Jesus died because of what he stood for (although I have the feeling that Abbott is a Substitutionary Atonement kind of guy rather than a Moral Influence one) and I’m asssuming has understood and internalised what the New Testament is actually about make these decisions which completely fly in the face of what Jesus was here to talk about?

I was reading James 1:27 this weekend and I came across this;

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless in this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world

Now I suspect that most commentaries will see ‘pollution’ as being lust or immorality or something along those lines (because isn’t it always?), but what came to my mind is that ‘polluted by the world’ is actually referring to a person getting so caught up in the dominant paradigm of their world (in this case, the Liberal Party) that they lose sight of the deep values that should be an intrinsic part of their make up. Tony Abbot has lost the ability stand up for what is right, because he has forgotten what that actually is.

He has become ‘polluted by the world’ and the opinions of those around him have become more important than compassion. If questioned, I’m sure that he would talk about pragmatic and practical and economic concerns but that is just my point. When you forget what is at the heart of what we are here on this earth to do, then you have truly lost your way. He has lost the ability to act justly and to love mercy, which is a bit of a pity because he actually could do something about it if his vision cleared a little.

It’s such a waste of a Prime Minister, really.

 

Slavery, serendipity and my messy desk.

As I travelled to Jamberoo Abbey recently, I caught a shuttle bus from the airport out to the bush (because driving through Sydney wasn’t going to promote my nun like level of calm). I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t the one driving and I was looking forwards to some relaxing chauffeur type time when I discovered that I had the most-awful-of-all-dreadful-things; a chatty driver.

Seriously. Small talk with strangers is my least favourite thing, mainly because I get really involved in it and over share and maybe offer a place for them to stay when they come to Tasmania.

OK, I’ve just realised that small talk gets me into a corner when I’m much more giving and inclusive and community minded that I’m comfortable with so clearly there’s a whole other issue there…

Anyway, chatty driver. Very nice chatty driver who didn’t really expect me to participate in the conversation so that was good. And as time passed he began to talk about his passion for orphans and his desire to fight child trafficking and how he travels to Thailand every year to volunteer at Zoe Children’s Homes (oh look, another fantastic faith based charity).

Now just the week before, I’d promised my grade ten classes that during term four we would study something interesting and relevant and useful to do with the developing world and equity and that it wouldn’t be boring and based on text books but I would have to have a bit of a think about it and decide which direction we were going to take.

And as Chatty Driver talked, I googled the Zoe Foundation and discovered that they provided a whole unit of work for precisely the curriculum I have to teach this term, crossing over from English and Geography. Basically exactly what I needed.

So, life lesson, when you open yourself to other people serendipitous things can occur.

Using this in conjunction with the information that I posted the other day, I’ll have some really engaging and relevant content (which will probably not be needed soon with men like this making decisions).

But although I’ve just discovered the awful truth about the number of slaves that work for me, while working at my desk I had the realisation that there’s a good chance that quite a few of these things were made, if not by actual slaves then very probably in sweat shops.

image

It’s one thing to intellectually know something but it’s so much harder to actually act on that knowledge. From being a loving and inclusive person on a day to day basis, to acting in an ethical matter when shopping, sometimes it seems all a bit too hard to me.

All the theory in the world is one thing but moving yourself into new zones; becoming aware of how to spend your money or making an effort to listen to people who you may not necessarily want to engage with, is what will really move things forwards, isn’t it? Those of us who are lucky enough to have the knowledge and have the awareness need to act on it, even if it seems pointless or just a drop in the bucket.

Well, this is what I keep telling myself, anyway.