Last week I took 10 youth to see the movie, Selma. It was a poignant depiction of a moment in our nation’s history that still reverberates through our culture today. I found myself crying…or rather sobbing…at the hatred and violence depicted on the screen. While the violence was not the purpose of the film, you cannot learn about this time in history without acknowledging the hatred and racism openly prevalent at the time. The march from Selma to Montgomery, which led to African-Americans achieving the ability to vote in local, state and federal elections, happened because the news media broadcast footage of the violence being heaped upon peaceful protestors to the nation and the world responded to the injustices and joined the movement.
My concern with our youth today is desensitization. The information age inundates them with so much they can pick and choose what they attend to…which is usually whatever catches their eye and can provide some measure of entertainment. They have the ability to be informed of literally everything that happens across the globe. But, because they can choose, they lose the ability to know where suffering occurs and where there is need of response. Their attention shifts only when something goes ‘viral’ on social media. This is more often a funny kitten, a cute baby, or a pop-star’s abhorrent behavior. But every now and then it will be a significant news event and when it is they will ask questions and seek understanding…that is where they learn to find meaning…and maybe even a little reverence.
Barbara Brown Taylor describes reverence as the mindfulness which comes about when we make concerted efforts to find meaning and seek understanding. Something suddenly matters. When we give an individual our full attention or expend a little mental and emotional energy to remember and honor all that happens to lead up to a particular moment in time, in an effort to appreciate all that has gone before, we reach a moment of reverence. We may even, hopefully, acknowledge that God has an orchestrated roll in pulling us in and moving us in a certain direction to play a part in a movement toward the common good…a movement towards wholeness or shalom…reverence
After the movie, a stranger and I exchanged a gentle hug. It felt as if that were the reward of reverence. Taking time to seek meaning, to actively engage in finding the divine in a moment in time or in another human being is reverent and the reward for that can be love.