The addition of an extra day to the calendar every four years does much more than balance it to the orbit of the Sun. February 29 has developed a number of traditions, many of them having to do with reversal of roles to achieve balance. An ancient tradition of gender role reversal, popularized in a comic strip in the 1930’s, was that women could take men’s roles on Leap Day; proposing a date or even marriage.
Reversals are the pattern of God’s action. Jewish tradition included a Jubilee Year every 50 years when debts were forgiven, slaves freed and land re-allocated and allowed to rest. Jesus’teaching was all about reversals. The blessing of the weak, the weary and the poor in the Sermon on the Mount lays out a series of reversals of the world as it is. Jesus consistently chose the unlikely person as the exemplar of God’s love; the child, the woman caught in adultery, the tax collector. So it seems clear that when we are looking for ways to #SpreadLove, we need to see with the creative imagination of the Holy Spirit where a holy reversal can take place.
Today, I find myself looking for reversal possibilities in the political discourse (which also occurs in Leap Years!). Apart from the clamor of rallies and television ads, some serious questions are asked as the presidential candidates vie for our attention. How do we choose our priorities? Whose needs are deserving of resources? What kind of leader do we seek? The work of politics is to shape that conversation so that it leads to a vote for a particular candidate. Our work as Christians is to shape the conversation to #SpreadLove.
No matter what you think of the various candidates or their platforms, their personal narratives have the power to unleash some powerful conversations. Where are our hidden biases around gender? What does citizenship mean in a nation of immigrants? Does money guarantee power? What does it mean to call yourself a Christian?
God can use these conversations to create some amazing reversals. What if mothers and daughters and grandmothers united for access to healthcare and employment, instead of being separated generationally? What if testimonies by the victims of Fascism and internment camps of the 1950’s changed the conversation about racism? What if people looked up from the cat videos on their cellphones long enough to ask what kind of country we want to be?
It’s not self-evident that these questions will spread love. Right now, they seem to be spreading anger. So we need to be alert to the possibilities for reversal. When the conversation turns to fear for the state of the world, we need to be the ones offering optimism. When a news story uncovers a need in the community, we can organise resources to meet that need. When a particular group is targeted by hateful speech, we can reach out in love to balance it. God keeps making a space for grace.
One day every four years keeps our calendar in balance. God’s love, even spread by only a few people, can keep the world in balance. #SpreadLove.