In an odd twist, we won’t be focusing upon today’s Feast Day in the Episcopal Church’s saint calendar, but today’s observance proffers a great launching pad! Today we commemorate Timothy and Titus, companions and disciples to Saint Paul who both became bishops and leaders in the early church. Please explore more about them, but with respect to them, I have a question….who are your wing men/women/folk?! I mean, those cherished few souls who invest mightily in you as a human being, or those in whom you are placing significant life deposits? Moses had Joshua, Elijah Elisha, Jeremiah Baruch, Isaiah an entire prophetic school spanning several generations of Israel’s tumultuous history, Jesus…Peter, James and John, Paul Timothy, Titus and Silas, and so on. You?
I intend to make an extended Epiphanic reflection which began recently with my PPP (recall?!) after Christmas, my realization of being the apple of God’s eye, God’s first concern. From there we moved in a natural Trinitarian trajectory to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, interrupted by a slew of saints’ observances and Sunday’s lections. But let’s return to how God manifests His (Godself still just doesn’t completely do it for me) self in our lives. We always start with God’s identity, nature, voice, “footprint” in creation and cosmos, just as our forebears begin with God in all creedal formulations. Today we pivot to how God manifests Himself to us in the lives of those He places in our lives. I believe with all my heart that God places specific individuals at specific moments in our lives to reveal Himself to us. Of course most would automatically say our families, parents and siblings and spouses and children. To which I say, well, yes and….Jesus made a disturbingly pointed observation that our families are more than those of blood relation, and our Lord then asked rhetorically who really are our family members but those around us who follow Christ. So I answer with a fudgy Anglican “Yes, and…” to that one.
Biblical wingfolk were not blood relations but spiritual kin, bonded through life experience and specific circumstance. Evangelicals personalize this teaching by asking (using Jesus’ example as a model for all of us) who are “our 3, our 12 and our 70,” the three tiers or layers of how our Lord called concentric circles of friends to Himself during His public ministry. Today I am asking about the “3,” our interior circle. With whom do we share deepest thoughts, dread fears, greatest hopes, life’s daily dramas? To whom do we turn in a moment of true crisis or surprise joy? Who do we want to know us, inside out, warts and all? Whom do we entrust with our lives? Not simply in this pandemic chapter, but for the long haul? Who beings lightness, comfort and distraction from existential loneliness? Warmth? Camaraderie? There are never (uuhh feel free to share your secret if this next doesn’t apply to you!!) 20 or 30 of intimate life pilgrims. Nope. Jesus found three, the three He took atop Mount Tabor to show them who He really was. Peter, James, John, clearly and repeatedly in the text. Paul has three also…Timothy, Titus, Silas. I have sought to replicate this model in my own life, with innumerable blessings in result.
- I have found a consistent pattern of God placing wise older men in my life as role models. Somehow having at least one elder, either in age or in sagacity, seems wise in this life! My three happen to be all same gender folk, hence literally my wingmen. Hint: Our three have us, as they say, coming and going. I could not deceive any of them even when I try, and I have tried and failed miserably. They see me naked in spiritual clarity and utter vulnerability, and I am a much better human as a result. Do one or more wingfolk come immediately to mind?
- If so, praise God and lavish them with every positive regard of deep gratitude! They are giving us the gift of loving companionship! If not, then may I pray alongside you to ask God to surface these life confidants as soon as possible? We all need them, and now!
- Note the age of those I listed earlier….Jesus, as far as tradition remembers, enjoyed close companionship with two older and one younger man than He. Paul, Elijah, Moses, Isaiah…all younger companions. A recent conversation with a dear friend reminded me of how significant it is for me to keep fellowship with those younger than I, the conceit of age I suppose. The sheer energy, differing perspective, and joy (for me) of shared life across generational divides is life-giving. I was reared in a place where gated communities only allowed those of a similar vintage to enter, where people go to die slowly. Purgatory! Most of humanity over history engage daily with family and community collectives including multiple generations. Joie de vivre, célébrez la variété!!