Our theme this month is Character. What does it mean to be a people of character? I chose this theme back when the Democratic National Convention was scheduled for mid-July in Milwaukee. Every election causes me to reflect on human character and try to discern which candidate’s character might be best suited to do the job. A presidential election ups the ante on this discernment.
What is character? It might be helpful to think of someone whose character you admire, someone whose character inspires you. Perhaps this person is someone you know personally, perhaps not. How did they shape you? How do you stay in relationship with them, whether or not they are still alive?
At a funeral or memorial service, we hear stories that lift up the best parts of the deceased’s character. We learn things about someone we didn’t know before, even if they are a close loved one. Sometimes the person described was so good, it seems like they were a saint, not quite as human as the rest of us. Yet we all have flaws. What makes our human failings character flaws? How do we overcome them and can we forgive them in others?
The Soul Matters resource suggests we keep our favorite people of high character close to us, to inspire and remind us of how we want to live. I keep photos of my ancestors on my home altar, to inspire me, to remind me of the risks they took to live with integrity, to provoke me into wondering what they would think of the times we are in now, and what choices they would make if they were in my shoes today.
Whose character shaped you most and how do you stay in relationship with them or what they stood for? In these troubling times, we need such anchors.