Grappling. Not a word commonly heard, but one that has proven important to me this year. Look it up. It means “to engage in a close fight or struggle without weapons; to wrestle.” An older dictionary gives this meaning to the noun grapple: “a close hug in contest”. I like that. It has a friendly connotation as well as captures the necessary struggle.
Jacob was a grappler. A patriarch of the Israelites, grandson of Abraham, important to Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, he fearlessly wrestled with “God’s angel” (Genesis 32: 24-31) to get to the truth, the knowledge he sought. He did not give up, he held on until the experience blessed him, saying, ” I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
Certainly for the last two years we’ve all had a lot to grapple with. Covid has not made life easy. But some of us tend to be grapplers on a regular basis. I may be one of them.
I grapple with current politics–how an insurrection on our Capital can be so easily dismissed as not catastrophic to democracy, or how a fair election can be considered a lie by half our population, or how citizens can push aside facts in favor of idiotic fantasies. I grapple with religions that tend to ignore scriptural teachings in favor of following cult-like personalities. I grapple with how we’ve become a nation immersed in selfish pleasures instead of doing unto others what we’d like done to us. I grapple when Christ Jesus’s two commandments to 1) love God and 2) love our neighbor rarely seem to be on any religious radar.
I grapple when we fail to take in the stranger at our gates–immigrants fleeing death in neighboring countries. When we tolerate poverty for others while we accumulate money and material goods ourselves. When we readily slaughter men in war or prison, but find fetus abortion abhorrent. When something so precious as love can be riddled with hate by thoughtless word or deed. When women are so often belittled, ignored, intimidated, humiliated, underpaid, abused, raped. When men, even with loving wives, feel the need to watch porn, masturbate, or drink themselves silly rather than cherish family. I grapple with those who chain up and beat dogs–dogs whose loyalty to mankind merits only adoration. I grapple with elephants and other wild animals who deserve to roam freely but are destroyed for their body parts. I grapple with why nature’s beauty must be lost by mankind’s irresponsible pollution. I grapple with everything unfair, unjust, cruel, dishonest, deceptive, destabilizing, debilitating, fraudulent, false, foolish, phony, impure, mean-spirited, menacing, myopic, wicked, evil.
Grappling invites us to challenge all that is wrong. It leads us to the honest life we are all capable of living. It corrects and humbles us until peace, joy, and well-being are ours. Made in God’s image and likeness, ordained good by our loving Father-Mother God, we have but one goal: to be good and seek the good in all things. And when we find good missing, or too difficult, in any category of life, we can, like Jacob, grapple with how things are until we attain the blessing that is rightfully ours, and everyone’s, as children of a good God.
About the Artwork:
Colors opposite on the color wheel, known as complementary colors, compliment each other, like red and green, here suggesting the energetic wrestling of two opposites that nevertheless bring out a unified whole.