Did you by any chance see last Sunday's Family Circus ? It was really great, actually it was wonder-full. It was not only a great cartoon, but within the pictures presented, there was, both hidden and revealed, one of the essential messages of the spiritual life. A message once accepted and believed in, changes our whole outlook on life. It is a belief we grow into over time. It is a belief we are never too young, or too old, to learn, and begin to PRACTICE. The cartoon begins with a little girl falling and hitting her chin on the ground. There is a look of amazement on her face as she looks around. (Which one of us is not surprised when we take a fall?) There is no one around so she gets up and heads out. There is a little bit of speed indicated here. She reaches home, goes in the door, looks around the kitchen, again there is no one there. She then heads up the stairs. She rushes into the bedroom, where her mother is making the bed. The little girl, with OPEN ARMS reaches out to her mother. The final picture is priceless. We see the mother bending down to the child's level. We see a great look of concern on her face, as she
reaches out to place one of her arms around her child. What happens next ? Well it is then, and ONLY THEN, that the child let loose her great big howl!!!!!!! What a picture to treasure. How many times have we been in that same situation, in that same reality? What has been the lesson, what has been the gift received from "the fall'???
That last picture also describes our understanding of God, because of His incarnation. In the incarnation, God becoming human, God has come down to our level, the fully human level. He has done so, so we will always be able to experience His constant presence, so we can experience the constant hugging of our God. Our God has taken up residence, and has made His residence in our humanity. So, when we come home to what it means to be truly human, there our God is waiting to embrace us.
To my mind's eye, those series of cartoon pictures captures a reality, which is essential for us to have, so, we in turn can have a healthy spirituality. As human beings, we fall again and again. Falling, and failing IS part and parcel, of our human experience. In many, and various ways we encounter the great pain that accompanies failure. What is essential for us is to have a place where we feel warm, safe, and secure. A sanctuary, as it were, where we can express our sorrow, shed our tears. We all are in deep need of that place where we receive the welcoming embrace, the caring arm around our shoulder, and if you are not an affects person, you are reached out to with a reassuring, strong hand. Such a place is essential for you, and I for our spiritual, and psychological health. We each must have that place, we must have that person, that sanctuary, where we are embraced in our
tears, and fears, without question, restriction, or reservation. It is okay that you are hurting, and in that hurting place you are received without condition. In that warm embrace we can cry some more. Many times it is ONLY within the secure embrace, can we too, like the little girl of the cartoon, really begin to howl. What relief there is. It is okay to be sad, angry, disappointed, teed off, (to put it
politely), and there is no one to say "you should not feel that way". Instead you receive the message, you are not alone, you are here, you are safe, and above all, you are loved. You are loved as you are right now. You are not a stranger, an alien, rather you are loved as you are and where you are at. In other words you are the BELOVED, His beloved. We are always asked to remember, it is not about how we see or feel about God, rather it is about how GOD, sees us and feels, about us, they will never be the same. We will ALWAYS sell God short. As Saint John says" it is not about us loving God, it is about God loving us. It is NOT about giving love, it is about RECEIVING love. The beloved does not earn, deserve, or qualify for the love of the BELOVED, all that can be done is, SURRENDER to the loved offered. A lifelong process.
So I ask you to again visit last week's blog ,and reread the second last paragraph. Read it SLOWLY, LET it sink deep down into the depths. When you are finished, then, and only then read the following:
"Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert. Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper. I have been doing a lot of digging lately and I know that I am just beginning to see a little stream bubbling up through the dry sand. I have to keep digging because that little stream comes from a huge reservoir beneath the desert of my life." -Henry Nowen