Saturday, February 27, 2010

E...Encounter

Lent is a season of grace. In the season, we will be offered the grace we need to face, and name the lie. We will be given the strength to reject the lie, about face and follow the truth, no matter how difficult it is.
As someone once said, “the truth will set you free, but first, it will tee you off”. The truth will have to become bad news, before it can, under grace, become good news for us, as well as for others. The good news is ALWAYS given, to be shared. Life, God, will present us with the person, or persons, that needs that particular gift we have just been given. The ways of God are truly mysterious.

On our Lenten journey, we have to pay special attention to the commands, "You are to love your neighbor, as you love yourself”,
"love your enemy" [Jesus Chris], "kiss the leper within", St. Francis. On the desert journey we will discover parts of ourselves, we wish were not there. We will say, “how can something like that be really part of me?”. In the desert we will have to face, within us, every sin another can commit. Blessed Mother Teresa, discovered, above all people, Hitler, to be alive and well within her. What humility she had to have to, first of all - to admit, and then reveal, such a reality. William Johnson in one of his books, warns us as we journey within, we encounter within ourselves each any every sin another human being can commit. We are then led to pray with what one saint said "there go I, but for the grace of God”. This is real death and resurrection work. It is here, that the rubber really hits the road. This is where one of the great movements of the spiritual life takes place; we move from hostility to hospitality [the other two are from loneliness to solitude, illusion to prayer]. That is taken from Henri Nouwen’s book “REACHING OUT". This is a movement we will experience every day. We are destined not to stay in any one place.

When we are in one place, we have to say, “this too shall pass”, even when we are in the best place possible, we have to say “this too shall pass”. Remember on Mount Tabor, when St. Peter wanted to stay, Jesus says “O'K, this is good, but let’s move on”. This is a good time to remind ourselves, success teaches us NOTHING, about the deep realities, of the spiritual life. It is ALWAYS failure, that is our teacher. We are asked to be taught to reflect the understanding of death and resurrection in our daily lives and living. In order to understand, may I suggest a lens, through which to look at the "lenting", of our daily living. In other words, the "H...O...W" of Lent 2010.

H.....HONESTY...HOSTILITY.. HOSPITALITY.
The Lenten journey challenges us to honesty. Honesty, in some instances often leads to hostility. From the hostility, that can be engendered, we are to open ourselves up to the prodigal love, of our gracious Father. Through the mysterious movement of His grace and Love, we will be led across the threshold of guilt, fear, and shame, to the place where all things have been made new. This will be like a flash of lightening which lightens up the darkened sky, and blinds us because of its brilliance. That flash of lightening cannot be planned . It will come in our darkest hour, and at a time and in a place we least expect. God's ways are truly not our ways. Would it not be a lot easier if God would do it our way rather that His way?

O....OWN. . .OWNERSHIP.
The spiritual way demands of us that we take ownership of who we are, and what we doing or not doing. We have to embrace the place of rebellion. Painful, and humbling, though it may be. Correction is painful and humbling. "NO PAIN NO GAIN". It will lead to a new level of powerlessness, where all we can do, is cry out to That which is greater than us. Our Savior God and Father, as revealed in the Paschal Mystery of our fellow human being, Jesus. This Jesus became The Christ, only through His death and resurrection. We become an authentic Christian only when we follow in His footsteps.

W.....Welcome.
We slowly, and sometimes with a lot of fear and mistrust, welcome the love of God. This mysterious love is infinitely greater than any love we have experienced, or can imagine. This is particularly true when we are in a place of shame, loathing, and self rejection. Where there is no love, sow love, and we will find, not only love, but live, new life. Not only new life, but a life beyond our wildest dreams. This DOES NOT happen overnight. It is a long process. During this process, we can, and will, get discouraged. It is then that we truly know what powerlessness is. We are now ready for a Savior who will take our trembling hand in His pierced hand. Together we journey into the dawning light of a new day. This day, it is our experience of the resurrected life that is our destiny. AWE-FULL??????

I hope, and pray, these few words will encourage, strengthen, and console you, as you make your desert journey, this week. This week we will continue our encounter with the demons of our desert. That is the "E" of desert, for this year. In our desert, we experience our many demons. Three of the toughest to face are what I call the "the toxic trinity, namely; guilt, fear, and shame. They want, to it put very bluntly, to destroy you and I. They are death dealers, and life destroyers. There is NO life giving quality, about these deceivers. I addressed these three last year. So, if you are new to the blog, I would encourage you, no I beg you, to go back and slowly read what was written last year. These three, like all of our demons, are not to be faced alone. When these are faced alone, they chew us up and spit us out. These have to be brought to, and encountered in prayer. In isolation, we are powerless. In prayer, we are powered with the power of God. In this experience, we discover what Fr. Rohr preaches-the powerlessness of power and the power of powerlessness. When we encounter these demons in isolation, we will live our lives believing we are "less than", and "not good enough" to name just some of the lies we accept as truth. We will join the others who believe in the same lies. The result is a life, if you want to call it a life, that our God does not want us to lead or live. We have to choose to reject the lies of the "toxic trinity", so we can enjoy the joy-full, life giving, and life enhancing freedom, as the beloved daughter and son of our gracious Father.

This is another reminder of God's dream for you and I. That is- the Aisling of God we are invited to, are living out each day, when we so choose. As we make our Lenten journey, and are “Lented”, we will come to, in the words of Thomas Merton, “the center of our nothingness where, in apparent DESPAIR, one meets God -and is found completely in His mercy". That is pretty good, isn’t it???? Hold the phone…. it is going to get better. Merton also has this to say,

"At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and illusion,
a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God......this little point.......
is the pure glory of God in us....
It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light OF HEAVEN.
IT IS IN EVERYBODY"