Sunday, April 13, 2014

The…Paschal Mystery…Never…Ends


The Paschal Mystery transforms, transfigures and leads us, always, into a new and different way of living. It bestows on us the great gift of hope, that death is not,  "the final word on life or despair the final days of human beings."[Boff] As we make our journey into the light of the resurrection, we will be led again and again to the understanding that out of all of our pain, sorrow, and brokenness, comes new life and wonderful gifts. We will be led to the belief that the "greater the wound, the greater the pain…the greater the gift." That is why each year, we are "dipped and dyed" in the Paschal Mystery to be awakened and to celebrate the new life that has come to us from what we thought was death. Death is never the end, it is always the beginning.

The Paschal Mystery is first and foremost a mystery. This mystery teaches that with every beginning there is an ending and with every ending there is a new beginning. It is a mystery dealing with the deepest working of God's grace. A mystery dealing with death, burial and new life. A spiritual mystery such as this cannot be explained, it can only be entered into and treated with reverence. I would like to suggest this year, more than ever, we need to open ourselves up to what this week offers in the way of hope, consolation and the promise of radical new life. This will come to us through the power of honesty, honesty about our everyday experience. There can be no spiritual growth unless we are developing a progressive honesty which is about embracing what is real. Where there is no honesty, there is no reality. So, there is no God. When we want to get a grip on reality and the Pascal Mystery within us, here are a number of words you and I cannot have in our vocabulary, the following are many words which have no connection with reality:  could, would, should, what if, if, if only, when, ought, try, interesting, or any similar words used to deny our real feelings and our real emotions.

A number of years ago,  I read a book by Fr. Ronald Holheiser which enabled me to enter into a new and better life-giving understanding of what the Paschal Mystery is all about. In his book, The Holy Longing, he explains the difference between terminal death and Pascal death. "Terminal death is a death that ends life and then possibility. Paschal death, like terminal death, is real, however, Pascal death is a death that, while ending one kind of life, opens a person undergoing it to receive a deeper and richer form of life. The image of the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying so as to produce new life is an image of Pascal death. Then resurrected life...is the reception of a radically new life... The Pascal Mystery is about Paschal death and resurrected life."

Continuing on, in the same chapter entitled "The Spirituality of the Paschal Mystery", we read the following:

The Pascal Mystery might be diagrammed as follows:
1) Good Friday..."the loss of life-real death"
2) Easter Sunday..."the reception of new life"
3) The Forty Days..."a time for readjustment to the new, and grieving the old"
4) Ascension..."letting go of the old and letting it bless you, the refusal to claim"
5) Pentecost..."the reception of new spirit, for the new life that one is already living"

Put into a more colloquial language and stated as personal Pascal challenge for each one of us, one might recap this diagram this way:
1) "Name of your death"
2) "Claim your birth"
3) "Grieve what you have lost and adjust to the new reality"
4) "Do not cling to the old, let it ascend and give you its blessing"
5) "Accept the spirit of the life that you are in fact living"

This cycle is not something we must undergo just once...It is rather something we must undergo daily, in every aspect of our lives. Christ spoke of many deaths, of daily deaths and of many risings and various Pentecosts. The Paschal Mystery is the secret to life. Ultimately, our happiness depends upon properly undergoing it... Unless we die in infancy, we will have many deaths in our lives and within each one of these we must receive new life and new spirit. Daily we must undergo the Pascal Mystery.

In her book, Little Pieces of Light, Sister Joyce has this to say, "Being able to let go and let God take over one's life demands a tremendous amount of trust in this Divine Companion. Thomas Merton writes that, 'True love and prayer are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone'. It is in within the hour of our greatest darkness that we discovered that we are never really alone. It is a time when we learn to trust as Gods love is much more than we ever imagined." This gives us the great freedom to be able to sing our Hallelujahs with real gusto. Death has turned into life. Christ is risen and is alive within you and me.

"O happy fault of Adam that has revealed to us such a God."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lent ..... 2014...... A...Real......Homecoming..????

There was a great, heartwarming, news story in the paper. The remains of a fallen soldier, long dead but never forgotten, was  definitely identified. From present day advances in DNA technology the remains  were able to be identified as...who  sacrificed his life during World War II.  As a result, his remains will now be buried with his relatives. He will have finally come home, after an absence of 70 years. That is one long journey. That demands a great deal of courageous waiting. After 70 years of absence, there were waiting for him his loved and dear ones. They were there to welcome home, the one who left so that their homes could remain intact, and free. We must never take freedom for granted. It must be fought for, again and again. Real freedom is not free. A price must always be paid. The greater the freedom, the greater the price. How blessed humanity has been with great prophets, both male and female, who have envisioned freedom. They were heroes/heroines not for just one people but for all of humankind. To this can be added, that challenging statement, "as long as one person remains oppressed, then we all are oppressed." Is it now becoming more and more evident, we are not to live our lives in isolation, but in community, in oneness. God loves a loving, life giving and life affirming community. This Family, whose essence is love we name it ,The Holy Trinity.             
                       
                             Eternal Light, Life, and Love, inter-relate eternally and so the process of creation continues, and of necessity must continue. It is not for us to decide how, it is for us to trust, to hope and believe in the essential goodness of The Creator God. This is where prayer comes in, and especially the prayer of hope. Henri Nouwen has written the following: "For the prayer of hope, it is essential that there are no guarantee asked, no condition posed, and no proofs demanded, only that you expect everything from The other without binding Him in any way. Hope is based on the premise that The Other gives only what is good. Hope includes an openness by which you wait for The Other to make His loving promises come true, even though you may never know when, where or how this might happen." We are not to make the mistake of thinking we must have the proper words, or expression when we pray. Henri has offered these words of consolation. "We are called (to pray) with our limited means, our stuttering words, and halting expressions. In this way we will come to know in mind and heart the unceasing prayer of God's Spirit in us. Our many prayers are in fact confessions of our inability to pray. But they are confessions that enable to perceive the merciful presence of God." Is it not amazing how simple all this is, and complicated humans have made it. I guess our ego needs to complicate this essential act so as to be able to look good doing something "good or great." The irony is it is grace, love in action, that secretly conspires with life to make the impossible happen. "Of ourselves we can do," what? Nothing!! If and when anything good happens, it is the result of the mysterious workings of grace. We will get away with the thinking that is solely the result of our efforts things happen. This smugness is going to be blown to hell and back. We will eventually be brought to the point of seeing, it is love and only a loving Higher Power, greater than us, in which this can be accomplished. We will be led to not only see, but come to believe that Love is our place of origin & destiny.

        The Loving  Eternal Womb is our home, our place of origin. It is also our destiny. To quote Fr.Rohr, "our deepest DNA is divine." That reality, we must ever and always keep before us. In this way, we will live a life of freedom, not a life of fear. In living the life of being the prodigal daughter/son we will be able to lead others not by just words, but by our actions. Words can be so empty. Actions speak louder than words.  We only have to "Be who you already are." ( Merton ) To be who we already are, is to have journeyed through the desert of fear, addiction, abuse, hatred, jealousy, to the promised land where all CAN be free. To live in the Freedom of being the beloved son/daughter is a choice, we all have to make. Yes! It is an act of faith, not in our own goodness but in the goodness of our Prodigal Mother/Father. No other person can make this leap of faith for us. They can model it for us. Share their experience of it yes, but cannot do it for us. This is a leap we have to take on our own. Yes, we all get to the precipice, facing the abyss of God's mercy, and ???

           Looking back over the years of journey and ministry, I have to admit  this fact. Even though this is God's plan "A" is for us it is not always our first choice. When we do not cooperate, through self will, God has to come with plan "B", or "C' or "D." I know I have run out of the whole alphabet, and am working on the numbers. I have an infinite amount of those to get through. Here I am relying on the Mercy-full Whose love Is Prodigal and the chances stored up, waiting for me, infinite. My sin-full acts are limited. God's mercy-full is infinite. All our Prodigal Mother/Father does is present us with "mercy, upon mercy, upon mercy, upon mercy." As Pope Francis is wont to remind us "God never tires of offering forgiveness," we for our part must ask for the grace to never stop asking. In this way there will be a sort of homecoming for us. We will be able to journey back to the place we started from, and come to know it in a completely new light. So the returning is really "a going forward, a going beyond." (Nouwen) There is now a newness, an excitement, that heralds a Spring Season like no other. This happens again, and again. A mysterious process " ever ancient, ever new."

                  As I make the  journey to the beyond, my way is brightened with these words of wisdom: "Our temptation in Lent is to be so impressed by our sins and failings and so overwhelmed by our lack of generosity that we get stuck in a paralyzing guilt, a guilt that leads to introspection instead of directing our eyes to God, It is guilt that becomes an idol and a form of pride. But Lent is precisely the time to break down this idol and direct our attention to our loving Lord. The question is: "Are we like Judas, who was so overcome by his sin that he could not believe in God's mercy any longer and hanged himself? Or are we like Peter who returned to his Lord with repentance and cried bitterly for his sins? This season of Lent, during which winter and spring struggle with each other for dominance, helps us in a special way to cry out for God's mercy." Nouwen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lent…2014…A…Real…Homecoming???

There was a great, heartwarming, news story in the paper. The remains of a fallen soldier, long dead but never forgotten, was definitely identified. From present day advances in DNA technology the remains were able to be identified as…who sacrificed his life during World War II. As a result, his remains will now be buried with his relatives. He will have finally come home, after an absence of 70 years. That is one long journey. That demands a great deal of courageous waiting. After 70 years of absence, there were waiting for him his loved and dear ones. They were there to welcome home, the one who left so that their homes could remain intact, and free. We must never take freedom for granted. It must be fought for, again and again. Real freedom is not free. A price must always be paid. The greater the freedom, the greater the price. How blessed humanity has been with great prophets, both male and female, who have envisioned freedom. They were heroes/heroines not for just one people but for all of humankind. To this can be added, that challenging statement, “as long as one person remains oppressed, then we all are oppressed.” Is it now becoming more and more evident, we are not to live our lives in isolation, but in community, in oneness. God loves a loving, life giving and life affirming community. This Family, whose essence is love we name it ,The Holy Trinity.
Eternal Light, Life, and Love, inter-relate eternally and so the process of creation continues, and of necessity must continue. It is not for us to decide how, it is for us to trust, to hope and believe in the essential goodness of The Creator God. This is where prayer comes in, and especially the prayer of hope. Henri Nouwen has written the following: “For the prayer of hope, it is essential that there are no guarantee asked, no condition posed, and no proofs demanded, only that you expect everything from The other without binding Him in any way. Hope is based on the premise that The Other gives only what is good. Hope includes an openness by which you wait for The Other to make His loving promises come true, even though you may never know when, where or how this might happen.” We are not to make the mistake of thinking we must have the proper words, or expression when we pray. Henri has offered these words of consolation. “We are called (to pray) with our limited means, our stuttering words, and halting expressions. In this way we will come to know in mind and heart the unceasing prayer of God’s Spirit in us. Our many prayers are in fact confessions of our inability to pray. But they are confessions that enable to perceive the merciful presence of God.” Is it not amazing how simple all this is, and complicated humans have made it. I guess our ego needs to complicate this essential act so as to be able to look good doing something “good or great.” The irony is it is grace, love in action, that secretly conspires with life to make the impossible happen. “Of ourselves we can do,” what? Nothing!! If and when anything good happens, it is the result of the mysterious workings of grace. We will get away with the thinking that is solely the result of our efforts things happen. This smugness is going to be blown to hell and back. We will eventually be brought to the point of seeing, it is love and only a loving Higher Power, greater than us, in which this can be accomplished. We will be led to not only see, but come to believe that Love is our place of origin & destiny.
The Loving Eternal Womb is our home, our place of origin. It is also our destiny. To quote Fr.Rohr, “our deepest DNA is divine.” That reality, we must ever and always keep before us. In this way, we will live a life of freedom, not a life of fear. In living the life of being the prodigal daughter/son we will be able to lead others not by just words, but by our actions. Words can be so empty. Actions speak louder than words. We only have to “Be who you already are.” ( Merton ) To be who we already are, is to have journeyed through the desert of fear, addiction, abuse, hatred, jealousy, to the promised land where all CAN be free. To live in the Freedom of being the beloved son/daughter is a choice, we all have to make. Yes! It is an act of faith, not in our own goodness but in the goodness of our Prodigal Mother/Father. No other person can make this leap of faith for us. They can model it for us. Share their experience of it yes, but cannot do it for us. This is a leap we have to take on our own. Yes, we all get to the precipice, facing the abyss of God’s mercy, and ???
Looking back over the years of journey and ministry, I have to admit this fact. Even though this is God’s plan “A” is for us it is not always our first choice. When we do not cooperate, through self will, God has to come with plan “B”, or “C’ or “D.” I know I have run out of the whole alphabet, and am working on the numbers. I have an infinite amount of those to get through. Here I am relying on the Mercy-full Whose love Is Prodigal and the chances stored up, waiting for me, infinite. My sin-full acts are limited. God’s mercy-full is infinite. All our Prodigal Mother/Father does is present us with “mercy, upon mercy, upon mercy, upon mercy.” As Pope Francis is wont to remind us “God never tires of offering forgiveness,” we for our part must ask for the grace to never stop asking. In this way there will be a sort of homecoming for us. We will be able to journey back to the place we started from, and come to know it in a completely new light. So the returning is really “a going forward, a going beyond.” (Nouwen) There is now a newness, an excitement, that heralds a Spring Season like no other. This happens again, and again. A mysterious process ” ever ancient, ever new.”
As I make the journey to the beyond, my way is brightened with these words of wisdom: “Our temptation in Lent is to be so impressed by our sins and failings and so overwhelmed by our lack of generosity that we get stuck in a paralyzing guilt, a guilt that leads to introspection instead of directing our eyes to God, It is guilt that becomes an idol and a form of pride. But Lent is precisely the time to break down this idol and direct our attention to our loving Lord. The question is: “Are we like Judas, who was so overcome by his sin that he could not believe in God’s mercy any longer and hanged himself? Or are we like Peter who returned to his Lord with repentance and cried bitterly for his sins? This season of Lent, during which winter and spring struggle with each other for dominance, helps us in a special way to cry out for God’s mercy.” Nouwen.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lent...... Journey.......To.... Reconciliation......&....Renewal


"What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," is a catch phrase we are all now familiar with. It is not the whole truth, however. For the last couple of years, I've enjoyed putting this twist on it. It goes as follows:  "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, until it shows up in Reconciliation (Confession), to be dealt with." We now know nothing that has ever happened to us has actually disappeared into thin air…The effects of each and every word that has been spoken to us, whether life affirming, or death dealing, is carried deep within us. Everything that has happened to us, for good or for ill, has left a residue in the depths of our souls. We have to keep before us this very challenging reality, "what our mind has forgotten, our souls remember." Those memories will have to be dealt with. We can, and do deny, the uncomfortable realities, what is sometimes called the shadow self, namely "the past, the primitive, and the inferior." We will be able to continue in our denial, but only for so long, until one day in some way we will be forced to confront those fear-full, frightening realities, as they are acted out in some destructive act or actions. That which we deny, suppress, sublimate will take a terrific toll on our psychic energy. It takes twice the energy to keep all this "garbage" bottled up, than to engage in the process of confession, reconciliation, and transformation. We must always keep before us that what we have been led into, by grace, is a long progress of reconciliation. This reconciliation process is the journey of whole life long. For us to be spiritually healthy we must accept, not like, this reality. The more we recoil from the honesty required, the greater the price we will have to pay. The choice is ours. Only we, as individuals, can accept, or refuse the priceless gift of liberation which is bestowed upon those who accept the invitation to the ongoing process of confession, reconciliation, and transformation. During these days of Lent there are more opportunities for the celebration of this  Sacrament  which gifts us with peace, and liberation. We are all in desperate need of both.
                          Years ago, I was lucky to be blessed with pearl of wisdom from Fr. Rohr, "it is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, not the Sacrament of obliteration." What a difference that makes as we reflect on the realities of our lives. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation nothing is destroyed, only transformed. This transformation is a new creation of grace. Mercy is at work in the depths of our being, bringing about a new reality. This is a good time to remember the Scripture saying,"behold I make all things new," and we must take the time to reflect on how in the mercy of our Prodigal, Mercy-full, Prodigal father what once was death dealing, is now life giving. We see that "new creation" of which the Scriptures are about, as now part of our reality. We do not know how or when this miracle of grace  happened. All we need to know is that it has happened, the rest, is none of our business. To make it our business is to engage on an ego trip. The more we give into the ego's demands, the deeper we will have to experience purgation. Purgation, the emptying out process of our egos, is never pleasant. It is downright pain-full. It is our lived experience of Calvary, and the Crucifixion. It is our journey, a journey we make again and again, to that place where we cry out: " My God, my God, why have you abandoned and forsaken me." These word of Jesus were the last He spoke, before He experienced the process of resurrection, As it was with Jesus so it has to be with us. That is, if we so choose to be a real disciple, a true follower, our destiny. This is a great place to stop, and reflect on that wonder-full prayer-hymn "Jerusalem my Destiny." (When I first heard "Jerusalem My Destiny" prayed, I fell in love with it. To the chagrin of some I wanted to have it prayed all the time!!! Obviously I am not a liturgist!  A reality that has triggered some real creative conflicts in my years of ministry. I am delighted to say the adventure continues!!!
           Nothing, absolutely nothing, in our lives is outside the realm of God's judgment and mercy. By hiding parts of our story, not only from our own consciousness, but also from God's eye, we claim a divine role for ourselves; we become the judges of our own past and LIMIT MERCY TO OUR FEARS. We disconnect ourselves not only from our own suffering, but also from God's suffering for us. By lifting our pain-full memories out of  the egocentric, individualistic, private sphere, Jesus Christ heals our pain. We connect them with the pain of all humanity, a pain He took upon Himself and transformed. To heal, then, does not primarily mean to take pains away but to reveal that our pains are a part of a greater pain, that our sorrows are part of a greater sorrow, that our experience is part of a greater experience of Him, Whom has said, "But was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into the glory of God." ( Henri Nouwen) As it was with Jesus, Who became The Christ so it will be for us, so we can become the sacrament of the Risen Christ. This is what it means to be Baptized. In this Sacrament we are anointed, twice, as an outward sign of the inner reality of our consecration. Our being called, our being and set apart by The Living God to to be the living presence, the living reality of His Son. In this becoming, we are slowly becoming, the reality chosen for us from the beginning of time. It will be insofar as we embrace life, and live it to the fullest in a healthy manner, will we live a life of creative love. We will be "life givers" not "death dealers."
                        The Sacrament of Reconciliation is our ongoing encounter with The Enfleshment of Mercy, The God-man Jesus Christ. Encounter is  of the essence of the seven ritual sacraments. I like to think of a ritual sacrament in the following way. A ritual Sacrament is, an encounter with the living person of Jesus Christ, the result of which change takes place in my life, and that change is brought about by the power of The Holy Spirit. That word encounter seems to be a favorite of Pope Francis, and it must also become a word we are becoming more aware of. In the celebration of Reconciliation we encounter "the living Person of Jesus Christ." There is so much to be reflected on in these five words. Who is this "living Person" you are encountering. How would you describe Jesus as a person, in whose personhood is revealed the Unknown, and the Unknowable? In order to have an encounter there, first of all, must be a living person. That is we have to construct, create a living, walking, talking, laughing, crying, angry, hungry, beaten, broken, betrayed etc. etc., human being. A human being who was "like unto us in every way except sin, and oh how He sought out and loved the sinner. We must keep before us that  the human qualities we attribute to The Historical Jesus, will be the same qualities we will attribute to Our Heavenly father? If we see our God only as an absent God, a transcendent reality, it is incumbent on us to bring about a change in how we see, accept and relate to the human attributes of His Revelation. The words of Anthony Padavono from the 60's ring even truer today "we must make Jesus human, and make ourselves as human as He was.' This of course will take time, and work. A lot of time, and an equal amount of hard work. But, on the other hand, with each Sacramental encounter comes with it this guarantee. Each Sacramental encounter  graces us with necessary grace  needed at that time to be Who we are called to be. We will get all that is needed to be, and be Who we are called to be. We need creative wisdom so as to develop an ever new  understanding of Jesus'  humanity. With this evolving understanding there will appear an ever new, and refreshing relationship not only with our own humanity, but with all of humanity. We will be drawn ever deeper into The Paschal Mystery, and the mystery of our life that is ever and always emerging from our encounter with death. In Reconciliation our ego dies, a pain-full death, when we express our powerlessness over so many aspects of our lives. In that expression of our powerlessness the way is prepared of Him, who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The stones of the toxic trinity, guilt, fear, shame, are rolled back so that the fullness of The Resurrection and it's new life may be ours.                

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lent...And...The...Desert...Shepherd.


Lent and "the desert journey" are synonymous.  There is a mystery revealed to us, ever new, as we trudge the days, and the weeks of Lent.  This is a mystery that has been hidden from some, but revealed to those who have been blessed with the courage to leave comfort behind,  and take the risk of entering upon  a desert hike/journey.   As the result of each lived moment we are new.  The grace encountered in each now moment  continues to perfect creation.  We are  all essential parts of this perfecting, while remaining always perfectly, imperfect creation.   With our belief in this process of an ever new creation there comes a great challenge.   We are challenged to leave behind the old.   In more frightening words,  we are challenged to let go, be emptied,  of all that we are certain of, of all that we are secure in, so as to journey into the unknown.   This is a great paradigm for our journey into The Unknown,  and the Unknowable.   All of this newness carries with it a tacit  demand for  a newness within us as well as we enter into, reflect on,  and participate in The Paschal Mystery.   Our Lent 2014 must result in a new way of seeing, that This Mystery we have been Baptized into is not only relevant  but vitalizing, life giving source as we live out, "the here and now."  We will have to reflect on, chew on, become familiar within a new way,  "Now is the acceptable time, now is the time of salvation."   Salvation comes to us as we allow the present moment to be all that it is, nothing more, nothing less.  It is what it is, and it's essential is-ness is hidden and revealed in The Source of all reality.   A moment then, is a sacrament in and through which  all the necessary  grace,  all the strengthening love needed, is channeled into our being.  On our part, we have to develop the trust and faith that IS happening, even though we do not have a clue as to how.   Here is a good place for; " I believe Lord, help my unbelief/disbelief." 


Why then are we invited, not compelled,  by Mother Church to make this yearly journey in faith?   Why is it that once is not enough?   Well, we do not go to school for a day, and then decide not to return anymore.   We have to return again and again so we can GROW in our understanding.   This "growing" is a process, and as such, can be very boring, and uninviting, to say the least.  How many children fight school, and all that it demands of them?   We cannot see the future, so we, as children,  have to trust that what we are asked to do will be beneficial to us in the long run.   Over these many years I have developed a trust in what is taught in The School of Lent.   I have not enjoyed that which I had to go through, but the end result is beyond what one could hope for.   The School  of Lent is situated in the desert.   Not a very inviting place to live in.   Hike in for a limited time, oh! yes, but to live in no.   It is so dry desolate, harsh,  and unforgiving of mistakes.  At the beginning of desert trails, there are a number of warnings posted to draw attention to the dangers that may be encountered.  Yet, how many are drawn to hike, again and again into a place that at first, seems to have nothing to offer?   As a result of constant journeys, hikes, something happens.   The reality behind the desert seems to reach out and embrace us in a very mysterious way.   There is no way to explain it.   Poets, artists, composers,  photographers, have all made attempts, to capture and to convey the essence of the mystery of the desert.   All of necessity have come up short.   I suppose that is why we will continue to read poems, read books, listen to music, take photographs in the vain hope that in some way the mystery of the desert will be at last revealed.   Part of me knows this will never happen.  Yet there is another part that will never stop the seeking and the searching for that which I cannot here describe.   I will, God willing, return again and again to the desert, so as to become more comfortable with the desert within me.   A desert I just do not visit every now and then, but a desert in which "I live and move and have my being,"  My yearly Lenten desert experience somehow offers me that certain something which gives me the courage to journey ever deeper into the all that The Prophet Jesus, was sent to teach.  As I look back on the many, many,  desert journeys again, I shudder, as I have previously shuddered and recoiled from depths of nothingness one is brought to.   


 There is the great consolation knowing that in the desert we are not alone.   In the desert we are NEVER alone.   We read in the scriptures  that Jesus was led, driven, into the desert by the Spirit.  The desert awaited Him to be His place in which He will be tempted.   In the desert, Jesus was tempted to deny His humanity.  In overcoming temptation, Jesus reaffirmed His enfleshment in our humanity.   Our humanity and the humanity of Jesus was the same broken, unredeemed humanity you and I take up each day.  Our Gracious Creator God did not have one humanity for us, but a better and more improved one for His Beloved Son.   We all share a oneness in  having the same humanity.   "Jesus is like unto us in everything, except sin,  and He died because of His love for us sinners.   Jesus was to use His humanity to full fill His appointed mission.   Jesus said that He was to preach good news to the poor.  He was to proclaim liberty to the captives.  He was to proclaim recovery of sight, to the blind.  He was to proclaim, let the captives go free.  He was to proclaim an acceptable year to the Lord."  (Luke 4.  ) All of what He came  to proclaim, and not only to proclaim but to actually physically do,  I need.   That need drives me out to the desert so I can with the mind, heart, and soul of my present being, hear for the first time, that which is from old, and speaks to me in the right now. 


 This Lent I must bring my new found poverty,  which has been revealed through daily living, to Him who embraced all poverty.  To make the necessary room for our poverty The Eternal Word emptied Himself of His Divinity so as to become incarnate in our broken humanity.   He knew from His human experience what it meant to be hungry, to be betrayed, to be beaten, to lose so much as to be existentially broken, and abandoned.   He was so grieved with the loss ofHis friend Lazarus, that He cried.  Jesus also cried over Jerusalem, because of her rejection of Him.   So go out to encounter anew, He Who is the bearer of good and Is The Good News.  I come not to tell Him anything new, but in the owning, and in the telling I receive a new understanding.   In the owning and revelation of my broken, wounded, hardened heart, which feels  like a death, something mysterious happens.  A new understanding will, in time be given.  This gift in time, leads to a new heart.   It will lead to a less hardened heart.  A less judgmental heart.   A more compassionate heart becomes more of a reality from the encounter with Compassion Itself.  The old fears of not being "good enough," of not being worthy of love, slowly give way to a new and a more, healthy, freeing love relationship.  The reality of being the beloved slowly brightens the horizon bring with it the promise of greater joy.   Not happiness, joy is now a choice. 

 When I prepare to go on a desert hike, I have to make sure I have all that is necessary for physical survival.   Water, food,  sunscreen, proper clothing, map, telephone, hat,  good boots,  etc.  are essential for safety.   For the inner desert journey there must be a different mindset.   I am going to encounter The Desert Shepherd, Who IS my only source of real food, and real drink.   He is a living stream that I just do not visit, but I come to understand is the source of life giving water that springs eternal,  deep within.  I come so ashamed of my nakedness, only to be clothed with the dignity of being a fellow beloved son/daughter.  I can now walk unashamed into a freedom hard to understand or explain.   It can only be lived.