The Third Way
"What does that sign say? Why do some yards have lots of signs? Why does that house have a big sign?" come the questions from the backseat of my car on our morning commute. Our five-year-old daughter has noticed the political candidate yard signs that have populated every corner of Dallas.
It's been good practice for me to try and explain the message behind each sign, some snippet of the candidate's platform, and a bit about the office they seek to hold. Talk about a daily test! (Full disclosure, I have had to look up some public offices and certainly some candidates.)
The truth is, as I've researched and tried to answer the daily questions, I have learned there is much more behind each sign than we could ever know.
Why is this person running for office? What moment in their life caused them to devote their life to public service? Why does this particular candidate for judge love the law and think it is central to our democracy?
Rarely do we get to see through the signs to these deeper messages and truths. This political climate dictates like there are only two sides: winners and losers, right and left, powerful and powerless.
However, there is a way of life beyond the binaries that the world proclaims. A life beyond us vs. them, in vs. out, right vs. left, rich vs. poor, or good vs. evil. Spend fifteen minutes in a pediatrician's waiting room with your child or an afternoon at the State Fair and you will see that people are much more than what the world teaches us to see. Our lives are more complex than what fits into a sound bite or social media post or on a political sign.
I've been inspired and challenged by the great Christian theologian and Jesuit priest Fr. Richard Rohr, who argues there is a third way of living -- a path that is beyond ourselves, that points us towards what is holy and good and divine. This path inevitably also returns us to one another. The third way isn't about bringing someone to your side, or you jumping ship to theirs -- but rather about finding a common mutuality, a third way, that we could never find on our own. A path that begins with vulnerability and forgiveness, and leads us to our common humanity. It is a different way to live.
I think this just may be the best news we could receive, especially in our world today. My dear friends, we are much more than the labels we place on ourselves or others. We are more than how we vote, who we love, where we work, where our kids go to school, what we happen to believe about a particular doctrine. Our lives and our relationships are deeper than those dividing lines.
There is a different way to live, a third way that we come to know fully through the divine. A way that teaches us that people are more valuable than their opinion on a given day. That there is more to human connection than someone's political stance. A way that says we can disagree with each another on matters of significance and importance and still belong to one another. In this season and beyond may we commit to choosing the third way by living like we belong to one another! A different way to live. Life beyond the sign.