He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.-Mark 1: 38-39
Each February, I am reminded of my demon, ignorance. Ignorance especially of my role in the family, community and world in which I live. I’m reminded that as smart and experienced as I am or think I am, I still have a lot to learn. The world and life are much bigger than the little boxes I want to put them in so I can think I know what it’s all about.
Yesterday, I was privileged to listen to a friend, an African-American friend, tell me and the group gathered on Zoom about his ethnic family’s contributions to the country we both share, the United States of America. Some of what he said, I knew. I knew the first citizen of the city I live in, Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable was African. Some I didn’t know. I did not know that Africans helped found the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine Florida. I did not know the landscape artist Benjamin Banneker, a free African-American helped survey and map out the lands of the new United State Capitol of Washington DC. in the early 1800’s.
Last month on this site, I shared my early experiences with bread, that simple, and oh so controversial addition or subtraction, depending on where you get your facts, to what is considered a good diet today. As much as I loved that bread my grandmother, my aunts and some good friends made, I’m learning that the ingredients they used left something to be desired. I’ve been trying to add those ingredients back in, well, actually not taking them out in the first place, by milling my own flour and making bread from that. It’s been an adventure, dying to my expectations of what bread “should” be and accepting what it actually turns out to be when I engage with some the basic gifts of the earth, like wheat, salt, water and yeast.
Then I’m told that COVID-19, is the enemy. I wonder is it really? COVID-19 has forced me to take another look at my life, from the food I eat to the history I think I understand. While it has taken away my ability to meet with others face to face, it has introduced me to a new way of gathering, allowing me to gather with family and friends that to this point in my life, have been distant and rarely seen.
Jesus come into my life today and drive out the demons you find here. Please give me the grace to say thanks and amen to the gifts you shower upon me even when they look like they are the enemy.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.