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Friday after Ash Wednesday

Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
Isaiah 58:1

As we age, tiny shreds of collagen fibers coalesce in the vitreous humor of our eyes and form floaters. They glide across our vision from time to time and disappear. Lately, I have had one sizeable floater lodged smack in the middle of my left eye. It obscures my vision just enough to be obnoxious, and it necessitates odd-looking eye dodging to move it out of my way. It gives me a nervous, vaguely unhinged affect.

This joins a litany of other age-related characteristics about myself—not all of them physical. This August I will have lived in Washington for one dozen years. This June I will have my seventh anniversary with my employer. This March will mark my third year as a homeowner. And, as I approach my thirty-third birthday, a coalescence of another kind of fiber blocks my vision—the fiber of habit. I would call it commitment, but that seems too noble a word for what often feels reflexive. There is little honor in routine.

Nothing illustrates this more than the gulf between my anger at the state of our country and my lack of action in response. What is it that prevents me from following Isaiah, who implores us to “shout it aloud, do not hold back,” to raise our voices like trumpets? It is the fear that, through following this call to service, the bricks with which I built my life will dissolve apart. Just as I must adjust my eyes to clear my sight, maybe I must also adjust my life to hew more closely to the path God means for me to walk.

The question then becomes, do I, or do I not, remain blocked by the fibers of my habit? This question must be answered.

Caroline Baxter

Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 58:1-9, Psalm 51:1-10, Matthew 9:10-17

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