NEWS

Getting off the hamster wheel

By Rev. Greg Little

Recently, one of the Daily Meditations from Richard Rohr really resonated with me:

We are not hamsters on a wheel, waiting to fall into the cedar shavings at the bottom of the cage. We are seekers of light and life, bearers of shadows and burdens. We are struggling to journey together toward moral fulfillment. We are learning to embrace the unfathomable darkness where God dwells with enthusiasm that equals our love of light.

Actually, it was the first sentence in that paragraph that particularly resonated with me, “We are not hamsters on a wheel, waiting to fall into the cedar shavings at the bottom of the cage.”  Unfortunately, we are to a greater or lesser extent, just that.  We often go through life without reflection or contemplation and without even recognizing that we are on a hamster wheel.  We accept where we are in life without much consideration or question of where we are or where we are going; are we seekers of light and life as Richard Rohr proposes or do we just try to make it through the day to day routine and challenges that often fills our days?

Speaking from experience, it is very easy to get into a routine and follow that routine without necessarily questioning if that is what I could or should be doing.  Routines are good in that they allow you to get through you days and weeks and more without having to expend energy to think or reflect on what you are doing.  The coronavirus pandemic, to a great extent, forced us get off our regular hamster wheels and decide how we were going to approach life in the coronavirus pandemic world.  In many cases this amounted to finding a new wheel to mount and begin to ride again.  In other case, unfortunately, it meant life-changing decisions that had to be made – sometimes with tragic consequences.

I do believe that assertion by Richard Rohr; we are created to be seekers of light and life, bearers of shadows and burdens.  We can only do that by trying, as best we can, to live a life that is conscious of who we are and why we do the things we do and being the people God created us to be.  This is what makes us human.  We are called to reflect on what we are doing and why we are doing it.  That is no easy task and can require that we get off the hamster wheel or at least stop the spinning from time to time and step outside our routine existence.

This is what Jesus’ parables attempt to do.  The reality of God’s world is opened up in new ways.  The hamster wheels of the people he was talking to was brought into focus and questioned.  Is that the way I should be treating others; who is my neighbour; do I walk by the person who has been mugged and is lying at the side of the road even if he or she is not worthy of my attention, what is truly important in my life?

How do we see “the other” as a fellow human being and act and react as a human being?  I want to close by applying this to an issue that is currently trending on social media – the Black Lives Matter movement that has been reinvigorated during the coronavirus pandemic.   The response by some is that all lives matter and of course as Christians we all called to believe that all lives matter.  But what does it mean to stop the wheel spinning in this issue?  For me, the cry of Black Lives Matter has never been a statement that only black lives matter or that other lives don’t matter.  It is a cry that black lives and lives of indigenous people – indeed lives of those who are “the other” also matter.  However, in many ways and in many situations that they have meant less than lives of white people or perhaps people of wealth and influence.

Let us be seekers of light and life and bearers of shadows and burdens on our journey.  Blessings to you on that journey.

Rev. Greg Littile is the honorary assistant the the parish of St. John teh Evangelist, Strathroy and St. James, Parkhill.

Featured photo: Katherine Mcadoo/Unsplash