The Disillusioned Bohemian
It’s always something. There is always someone. Some way to be better. Someone better. The new healthier way to eat. The latest in intentional parenting. That book you have to read. That speaker that you have to listen to. There is that friend who seems to live so free, off the grid. The other friend who you see traveling every time you make the mistake of checking your news feed. There is that one couple’s marriage that seems a thousand times happier than yours. That one guy with that unbelievable career.
Then there’s you. You don’t have enough time to chop all those vegetables so you can eat clean. You do not live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and you can’t make your own bio fuel out of used cooking oil. Your kids watch a lot of Netflix. That last time you went to the mom’s group you knew for sure you had to be the very worst mother of them all. You want to escape the rat race and live free in the woods or on the beach, but you love amazon prime, showers and your kids have too many toys for that tiny house.
That other lifestyle is so much more hip, healthier, exciting, deeper souled…than yours.
Simplifying, eating heathier, becoming a more soulful person…enhancing your lifestyle is good. We can all become better. But, do not believe the lie.
Bohemian – having informal and unconventional social habits. We generally stereotype them as hippies, writers, artists… he was less peacenik and more activist. He grew up in the system. He was all set to be a revered leader in the system. But, the system was flawed and he would have felt like a sellout if he just played the game. So, he left. He went all bohemian, left town, wore weird clothes and ate organic. He had an edge though. He was kind of an angry bohemian who did not leave to simply break free and live quietly. He left because it was time for a revolution. He railed against the flawed status quo and the people who upheld it. He called out the abusers of power and exposed them for what they were.
It was his destiny and he fulfilled it. He was a pioneer – a path forger, but he was cognizant of his limitations. The movement was bigger than him. He brought the matches. Someone else would ignite the fire.
“Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?”1 John, from prison sent this message, this question to Jesus. What did he mean “Are you the one or should we expect someone else?” He had to know he was the one. They were related. Undoubtedly, he heard the prophecy about him too. And, when Jesus came to be baptized by John, he not only recognized Jesus’ greatness, but God declared it.2 He knew who he was.
This was more of a respectful way of John saying “I don’t get it Jesus. This revolution is anemic. Is anything happening? And hey, I am in jail. Are you the Messiah or not? Get me out! Make something happen.”
Sometime it all feels like talk. They simplified and then they had kids and minimalism became much more elusive. She ate healthy, but still got cancer. Their cool, adventurous marriage ended in divorce. That diet ended up not being the best after all and everyone has moved onto the next fad. Sometimes we try to get all bohemian, reinvent our lives and break out of the status quo. It might work for a while, but then the jail door of reality shuts and we are stuck again.
It is the same with churches. We use words like vision and talk about attacking poverty and “doing” social justice. Sometimes it just feels like we talk a lot and accomplish little. Sure, we fed them, painted their house, or provided Christmas. They got hungry again, the paint eventually peeled, Christmas came again and their finances were not any better. What is this Jesus? Does anything ever change? Are we throwing pebbles in the ocean hoping we might create a wave when we barely generate a ripple? What are we doing?
Jesus sent John an answer.
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”3
To the disillusioned He says “Take heart. It is happening.”
Your effort matters – to be healthier, less stressed, more generous and soulful. Our efforts as faith communities to participate in taking care of others in our neighborhoods, spiritually and physically, matter. Often our disillusionment comes from missing the point of idealism. The ideal will never be fully realized here and now. Idealism is a direction like East or West. There will always be a “West” no matter how vigorously you chase it. So, move, but not to the peril of your own psyche, contentedness and presence in today. Look to the horizon, but maintain perspective.
3 Matthew 11:4-5
4 Matthew 11:11