“There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God.” ~ John Calvin
“Observe all men; thy self most.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
“And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father…” ~ First Chronicles 28.9, NRSV
How do we wish to be known and how do we come to discover ourselves? Stumbled upon or inherited, our identity can be something we work for or that works against us. Who we are determines who others will be to us. How we see ourselves influences the manner in which we view others. But, who or what knows us best and how is our identity determined by it? Is it our gender, our parents, our race, our God?
Race makes the knowing of ourselves too easy, too predictable. Simply to be seen is to be known. Our physicality is inventoried and conclusions drawn: You are black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige. But, do we really know ourselves if what we have learned has been repeated for hundreds of years to every person of the same social coloring or cultural background? If it has been used to maintain social hierarchy, cultural divisions, faulty notions of beauty and power, can it be trusted as a reliable source of our identity? If that identity does more to conceal our true nature and its purpose? If it is an identity lived in and for and through our flesh and its appendages?
No. I want to be known and I want to know myself beyond the social coloring of my skin, the size of my lips, the texture of my hair and the shape of my nose. I want to be known for more than my socioeconomic ranking, educational background, geographical location and workplace title. And I want to know myself as God knows me, spiritually, deeply and truly– without all of the lusts and lies that get in the way. If not, then I will die a stranger to myself. Oh God, help me to know myself and to be known without race and apart from stereotypes. Amen.