Milestone - Monday Musing, May 9, 2022
Milestone. It is said that when we reach a significant point of development, we have attained a milestone. Graduating from high school and/or college, getting married, establishing yourself in a career, and having children are examples of such markers. Milestones are seen as positive pause points in our lives, having worked hard to achieve a goal. We tend to think of our development as forward leaning, progressive, accomplishing one set of goals before turning our attention to the next. Events of this past week have me re-thinking that milestones in our lives are always forward-looking and positively framed. Milestones can be negative markers, divert us from our path, and even take us back to a previous place that we thought was unimaginable.
According to data collected by news organizations, the US surpassed the milestone of 1 million COVID-19 deaths, and the World Health Organization estimates 15 million deaths worldwide – a once unfathomable scale of loss, even for the country with the world's highest recorded toll from the global pandemic. Such shocking statistics were reached at stunning speed: 27 months after the country confirmed its first case of the virus. As a congregation, we have faced multiple challenges throughout this pandemic, but our hearts break because we know people who have been lost, families who have been impacted – it is not a statistical oddity that doesn’t affect us; our community of faith has been impacted by this sad milestone.
A draft Supreme Court opinion was unprecedentedly leaked this past week, revealing that the Supreme Court is about to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The Alito draft, which has been posted online by news sources, is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights. Those on one side of this hot-button political debate felt they had achieved a milestone when Roe was released, celebrating the decision that public policy is not the place for private matters; the best decider of such a difficult choice should be between the woman and her medical provider. This milestone will now be overturned by the other side of the political debate who are now pleased that their long-sought goal is about to be achieved. Why is this a concern? Because many other rights and freedoms that we enjoy are based on the legal analysis used in Roe.
This past week shows that milestones are not always happy and joy-filled. Talking about milestones gives us a chance – as individuals and as communities – to not only look back and celebrate what it took for us to get to this point, but it also gives us a chance to peer into the future and plan next steps. As much as we are getting tired of this global pandemic, in reality it is not over. And justice issues cannot be left for others to champion; collective advocacy and action are needed.
We come to know ourselves by the milestones we achieve. And we achieve milestones because we are attentive to the world around us and work to accomplish goals where God places us. “Rekindle the gift of God that is in you,” wrote the Apostle Paul to his beloved co-worker, Timothy (2 Tim 1:6). In each of us God has placed a gift, but like coals burning under the ashes, sometimes our gift remains hidden. The challenge is to reveal it. And then comes the harder part, working to establish and achieve a milestone, even knowing that sometimes it doesn’t always turn out the way we want or like. See you in church!