Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Sacrament of....Reading

Summer time is a time for reading and relaxation. People stock up on their "beach books", and "travel books". Some of these books are meant for escape. While others are meant for inspiration. It is good to have that balance. I always encourage the hard working and the driven to read a book, or books, that has no redeeming value whatsoever. Sounds good???? I have always loved the journeys I was, and am taken on, by so many different authors. I have mentioned before, I travelled many Arizona trails, even before I became an Arizonan. Zane Grey has always been, and continues to be, my very favorite author. I now have to think, and for the FIRST time, how much of my reading of westerns went into my decision to volunteer for the old Diocese of Tucson? I always thought, up to now, I volunteered after I read of the ratio of priests to Catholic, one to 12,000. (I read that statistic in 1957 in the library at St. Patrick's College, Carlow.) The mind….when are we ever going to understand it's mystery? Not in our life time, that I know. In my wondering, I have wandered, and for those who have heard me in person you say, "What is new?" So back to where I left off, reflecting on books. Inspirational books are an essential, not just a necessary part of library. We need to be challenged to leave behind our narrow way of thinking. Our unchallenged minds will lead to us that comfortable place where all we do is vegetate. In that place of comfort we will have the audacity to be the judge and jury, of ourselves, and consequently, of those we deem, lesser than us. We become so self righteous and condemning. Let us be gentle and understanding here. We are not acting from a place of real truth, we are acting out of our ignorance. As we are led from there, by grace, into a deepening understanding of the whole truth of who we really are something drastic, mind blowing happens? A change in perception happens. We are led into the truth of who we really are in the freedom of God's love. We are asked, even challenged, to start the journey into the belief of a love that is beyond our limited human, imagination. We have to let go, and this is so scary, all that is familiar to us, and journey, somewhat naked, into the unknown. Is not The Unknown, another name for God???? How awe-full is that??? Worth the pain and the struggle? Nothing in the spiritual life comes to us, without FIRST having to endure a journey into our brokenness, our innate powerlessness and gut wrenching fear. I read this many years ago, and I use it so often myself, and encourage so, so many to make this part of their daily prayer, and reflection. " And now God says to us what He has already said to the world as a whole through His grace-filled birth: I am here. I am with you. I am your life. I am your time. I am the gloom of your daily routine. Why will you not bear it? I weep your tears-pour out your tears to Me. I am you joy. Do not be afraid to be happy forever, since I wept, joy is the standard of living that is really more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who think they have no hope. I am the blind alleys of all your paths, for when you no longer know how to go further away, then you have reached Me, though you are not aware go it. I am in your anxiety, for I have shared it by suffering it. And in doing so, I wasn't even heroic according to the wisdom of the world. I am in the prison of your finiteness, for my love has made me your prisoner. When the totals of your plans and life experience do not balance out evenly. I am the unsolved remainder. And I know that that remainder which makes you so frantic, is in reality my love that you do not understand. I am present in your needs. I am there and they are now transformed, but not obliterated from my heart. I am in your death, for today I began to die with you, because I was born, and I have not let myself be spared any part of this death….Ever since I became your brother, you are as near to Me as I am to myself." Karl Rahner. What awe-full, wonder-full words these are. Great fodder for thought as one sits and relaxes, by the gentle surf, or by a babbling mountain brook. Words that must be allowed to travel deep and in the depths of who we are, so they can be mingled with what has already penetrated to those depths. Of late we have sung, in prayer, “I will come to you in the silence, I will lift you from all fear, you will hear my voice I claim you as my choice, be still and know I am near." Do we believe that reality? How awe-full is that? We have to wonder, and wonder at those a words and allow whatever to surface and be owned. There is a new country song, at least for me, with the words "I love that you love me” and we can add "God" here to make a personal prayer owning the deepest reality of who we are. It provides us with limited words as we struggle to express the inexpressible. In prayer we are always coming up short. Is not that the reason we have The Spirit within to do that which we desire but of ourselves we cannot accomplish. The desire to pray, IS to pray, is a fact we must always keep before us. Spiritual reading is the great “starter” of prayer. Hence it is called sacramental. The place where we encounter the The Sacred, The Other, The Unknown, The Ineffable, that is why, where you stand you are always standing on Holy ground. “Life has got habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it as you find it.You got to change with it. If a day goes by that does not change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow." Woody Guthrie