In recent passages of scripture, I hear Jesus telling the hypocrite parts of me that I don’t always do what I intend; I set a standard for others that I don’t keep myself; I am not as sincere as I want to seem. So when he tells this parable about some folks waiting for a bridegroom who has been delayed, I am prepared to see that they, too, might be parts of me. In my long wait for wholeness—my journey to ’10’ you might say—I am found to be equal parts foolish and wise. I act responsibly about half the time, but expect others to meet my needs the other half. I am five parts filled, and five parts depleted. Having a lamp does not mean I will have enough oil to keep it burning. I might look prepared, but am I really?
All of us run low sometimes. All of us fall asleep. We have perfectly good lamps, capable minds and hearts, but our hope and patience and kindness and forgiveness—the oils that allow us to “shine out loud”—drain away and our spirits darken. The essential oils of all things juicy and creative and alive in us dry up. The eternal flame that burns away the superficial and ignites our compassion grows dim. We cannot be replenished by each other or by ourselves. This oil is not a commodity to be siphoned and passed along. Only you, only I, can plug into the pipeline to be refilled.
I used to think the ‘wise’ ones were not very kind to say to the ‘foolish’ ones, No! We cannot supply what you need. But now I hear this as simply the truth. We simply are not able to give and do and be for each other, or for ourselves, all that is needed. We can wait together. We can listen for the arrival of love. We can notice each other, and point toward the filling stations. But you cannot be my source of hope and creative purpose any more than I can be yours. We can only remind each other to get refilled, to return to the wellspring often for replenishment and reconnection. If we hope to outlast the dark, we will need for all of our lamps, small as they are, bright as they can, to shine.
Matthew 25: 1-13
By: Kayla McClurg