Holding On In The Letting Go In A Pandemic: Dismantling the Lines
By Lace Williams-Tinajero
I awoke in the in-between state of half awake, half asleep. The dream I was in the middle of seemed so real. Perhaps it was something that had happened, or will happen, or a recurring dream—I cannot tell.
My dream is a warning to pay attention to something in my life. I must figure out what it is lest I snap and break.
“Surrender and bend to the mystery of not being able to return to your dream,” I heard back.
What shall we call such invisible states marking life’s transitional moments: dreamy to conscious, awake to asleep, Word to flesh, water to wine?
I’ve often thought of life’s intersecting moments as crossing some threshold. Yet I am starting to rethink whether these lines are constructed in my imagination or are really real.
Great thinkers struggle with the very markers I speak of. On the question of whether human nature is inherently corrupt or good, theologians claim that being born human means being born sick.
Hence a Savior too was born. Unto us a child was given.
Scientists and philosophers present evidence to the contrary. Social psychologist Dacher Keltner challenges the adverse views of humanity. “Human communities are only as healthy as our conceptions of human nature.” Human beings by nature are hard-wired for compassion and goodness.
In this sense, human beings conform to their surroundings, for good or ill. If our environment is positive, supportive, and safe, we are pulled toward altruism. If our environment is unsupportive, harmful, and negative, we get caught up in its destruction.
“Choose life,” God told Cain.
Cain choose to kill Abel, his own brother. Life ended in a nightmare. The human story has been a bloody one ever since.
In questioning the belief that human nature is inherently bad, Keltner says:
It has long been assumed that selfishness, greed, and competitiveness lie at the core of human behavior, the products of our evolution. It takes litt le imagination to see how these assumptions have guided most realms of human affairs, from policy making to mediaportrayals of social life. But clearly, recent scientific findings forcefully challenge this view of human nature. We see that compassion is deeply rooted in our brains, our bodies, and in the most basic ways we communicate. What’s more, a sense of compassion fosters compassionate behavior and helps shape the lessons we teach our children.”
To live beyond the confines of either/or, in doing what needs to be done, I am neither strong nor weak. In taking care of loved ones, I am neither superhero nor victim. When illness comes my way, yes, it is both part of me, but not the whole of who I am.
Not being able to return to my dream—its forgotten now—I reimagine its ending. I rewrite the why. Why do precious moments of connection and laughter awaken sadness? It is because I don’t want life’s happy moments to end.
Dr. Lace Williams-Tinajero, author of “The Reshaped Mind: Searle, the Biblical Writers, and Christ’s Blood,” (Brill, 2011) writes about the connection between language and the diverse ways people think of, speak of, believe in and ultimately worship God.