2017-11-24 / Chaplain's News

There is an app for that

Chaplain (Capt.) Azande Sasa
202nd Military Intelligence Battalion

Are you having difficulty sleeping? Would you like to find the best work out for your body type? Don’t feel like going to the store for groceries? There is an app for that. Apps seems to be the go to prescription for all of our social ills. As we become increasingly subsumed in our trinkets is it all what it appears to be? Do we run the risk of losing ourselves amidst the din of our distractions?

I recall an exercise that I once did at a spiritual retreat. We sat knee to knee with a partner and were asked, “who are you and whose are you?” Each answer peeled back a layer of our identities: I am a Soldier, I am a chaplain, I am a wife, I am a mother… until there were no more responses to give. I am…

In the military, we identify ourselves and gauge how to interact with one another based on our rank but, as hard as we work to obtain it, we are not our rank. This message was poignantly conveyed by the artist and songwriter India Arie in her song, “I am not my hair.” Her point was that our identities are much deeper than our external markers such as skin color, the texture of our hair, our appearance, our rank, our height, our weight, or the crisis du jour.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, Jeremiah 1:5, God says to the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I shaped you in your mother’s womb, I knew you.” Imagine that, before you were private Snuffy, before you were your parents’ child, before you were a father, a spouse, before you had a drinking problem, or received an Article 15, before you were; you were created to reflect the goodness and wholeness of the Creator.

Many of our world’s religions speak to the eternal nature of our human existence. An example is found in “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” which states:

“We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity – but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our “biography,” our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?” (p. 16)

Who are you and whose are you? It is a pity that we as humans spend so much time of our lives striving to obtain what we already have – and seeking desperately to become who we already are.

As we approach the holiday season, I would encourage us to spend some moments in quiet repose away from our trinkets, gadgets and devices. At a time when there appears to be an app for nearly everything under the sun, let us not forget that we have the greatest app ever created – the human heart. No assembly necessary. It only needs and seeks connection to self, to others, to creation, and to the Creator. Instead of falling into the frenzy of incessant human doings, the greatest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones is to simply be.

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