Omelas 2.0

Last year I wrote a post about how I was living in an apparent utopia, and I drew some comparisons to LeGuin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” This past week, I read the short story in class with my AP English students and asked them to write a reflection on whether they would stay in Omelas or walk away. One student adamantly insisted on a third option – to reform Omelas.

I read some really thoughtful responses from students – several of whom admitted that while they’d like to reform Omelas, it seemed like a daunting and overwhelming task they wouldn’t be able to actually accomplish. As I was reflecting on the madness of my week, I realized that in some ways I’m living in an Omelas that I’m trying to reform. Reformation doesn’t happen all at once though, it’s a long, slow, painful process. Furthermore, I have to evaluate where my time and energy is best spent in the reforming process.

Working at a school like BFA has so many great perks, but I can’t have every kid over to my house for tea everyday. I need to be intentional with my time and have the margin in my ministry to take care of my body holistically. My treadmill is getting good use – shout out to my friend Jenn who took me seriously on that gift option – and I know I’m better in my body for putting more weight on my legs each day. I’m working my way up to daily use of the treadmill; I’ll be honest, it’s wearing me out faster than my peak back in New Zealand. Give me a couple more weeks though, and I think I can get back to the pace and distance pretty quickly.

No community is perfect, but I can look for ways to keep helping my community foster healthy relationships among each other. For me that means acknowledging the limitations of my body frankly with my friends and asking for grace when I can’t show up to every commitment on my social calendar. This week I went to my church small group, but I had to pass on the choir concert because I wasn’t sure my body would last the several hours I’d need to be away from a bathroom. I’m so grateful for the friends who will keep inviting me places when I occasionally have to say, “not today.” Those people are doing their part to reform a community that has the potential to isolate me when I can’t keep up with the social demands of the culture.

Hopefully you can read that I still have a positive take on the week, but maybe you’ll also pick up on the hint that there were some real struggles as well. I’ve got great support systems, and I don’t need to air everything on the internet, but I’d like to publicly thank anyone who’s sent me an encouragement through this past week, said extra prayers for me, or sent positive vibes into the world on my behalf. I appreciate you doing your part to help alleviate my suffering in some way. Unlike that child in the basement of Omelas, we’re all sharing the load here like Paul encouraged the Galatians to do.

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