Saturday, December 22, 2012
"You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience, you are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience." In those words, deChardin, sums up for us, real succinctly, the reality, the inherent mystery, hidden and revealed in the moment we call, "The Eternal Now". Human and spiritual, two seemingly contradictory realities, are to be sought out, and embraced, lovingly, by each one of us. Both, are to be loved in all their pain, joy, light, darkness, until through grace they become a unity within each one of us. This is the only way to wholeness, holiness. This loving is not easy. If it were easy, and we could do it naturally, why does our God have to make it a commandment? This is not easy commandment to obey. It is no walk in the park. It is however, the path we are invited to trudge, the mountain trail we are challenged to ascend. Left to our own selfish way of living we would never choose such a challenge. Yet, there is something inherent within each of us that draws us to seek and to search, endlessly. As a consequence, we are all seekers. We are all searchers. We are all on a quest. For what? We are not certain. All we know is there is an attraction that we respond to. A silent call that beacons us to leave the comfort, and security of where we are, i.e. Abraham. Like Abraham, our Father in faith, we hear, and off we go. Is there immediate success? The answer is a definite, NO. Success is NOT what this climb/hike is about. It is all about perseverance. It is all about putting one foot in front of the other. Ever vigilant to all that is. Why? Because, in the moment we are making that step all the strength I need is being given to me. This strength, God's grace, is communicated, NOT in the way I expect, but in the way our Gracious Father God deems best at that particular time. God's love is always particular, passionate, and persistent. She/He is prodigal, that is reckless in the way He/She lavishes infinite love upon you, and I. We cannot earn. We cannot somehow do something by which we deserve this unconditioned love. It is pure gift. All we can do is be humble enough to accept. We are encouraged not to look for rewards. Success is not what we are to be concerned with. We have to battle with the human need to know we are on the right path. Doing the right thing, doing the next healthy thing is the right path. Our path is not the path of certainty, rather, we are journeying into uncertainty. Who wants that? The answer! Those who have been chosen . Do you somehow have to be a "good person", no. One author points out that God seems to choose habitual sinners to make this mysterious journey. We sinners are graced in a way that is not ours to know. As the scriptures reveal to us that the things of God no man/woman knows. Only the Spirit. (First Cor.2:4). On this quest are many starts, stops, falls, and restarts. Those are a necessary part of the reality we have to face. Each time we encounter a hiccup, we just start up again. From all of our hiccups we gain experience, and knowledge. When we bring all that we are encountering to prayer, then we are gifted, through grace, with wisdom. Unfortunately, that is the only way we can grow in the wisdom, that is life giving. There are, then, many and varied obstacles to be met and overcome. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those who are easily discouraged. It is for those who are prepared, or are willing to be readied, for a journey into realities that radically change their perception of reality. As a consequence their perception of themselves, others, the world and God will be radically changed. This change will not be measured by some accepted metric. The change will come slowly, and ever so gently. When does this happen, and how will we know it is happening. It is happening right now, "do you not perceive it"? It is happening in this now moment, and will continue in each and every, "right now" moments of your life. Each moment is complete, yet, at the same time incomplete. To each moment there is the present, and the "yet to come". In this "yet to come" God's creative love, and will be acting, just as it is, right now. This gentle creative love is bring to birth, not who I think I should be, or I am expected to be. God's love is recreating me into the one God knows and loves, without condition or restriction? Amazingly this leads discomfort and to discontent. The reality of who I am in God's infinite love is way beyond my limited thoughts, and ideas. So there is a struggle. It is more than a struggle, it is a war. What I want has to do with my comfort as a human being. I am, in my as yet unredeemed humanity, geared for power, property, and prestige. I am at "my" best when I am winning in the world of control, comparisons ,and competition. Loss, failure, disappointment, these are words not allowed to be part of my vocabulary. They are forbidden to be given the light of day. Darkness is their friend. When this is our reality we are subtly being lead away from our personal Bethlehem, and our encounter with The Real Light. We will have to ask for the deepening honesty that will free us for the encounter. The encounter that radically changes everything. How does this happen? I wish I knew. We must never lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with mystery. A mystery that is beyond our ability to understand, as we are right now. That is why each year we have the celebration of The Incarnation. Each year we are led deeper into the mystery of The Infinite God being revealed to us as a fully human being. Our God Came to be like us in every way, except sin, and what love He, in and through the person of Jesus lavished on sinners. As it was, so it is and ever shall be, until the end of time. The person of the historical Jesus comes to us, again and again, to draw us deeper into the Mystery of God made human. The reason? So, we will be led to discover that within us, in our deepest reality, that same God that once entered this world is fashioning a dwelling place. This dwelling place is to be found in the depths of who we are. We are chosen to be Mary. We have been blessed with an "inner pregnancy". As we struggle with the birthing of who we really, we are at the same time revealing in a new and unique way, the Child Jesus. In The Child, the divine and the human are perfectly revealed and hidden. We are invited to enter the mystery so as to seek out that which will empower us to be instruments of lasting peace. Him who came as The Prince of Peace now relies on us to be instruments of His peace, and confront the hell of war. All war finds it roots within the human heart. We are challenged to imitate the life of Him who was both totally human and divine. In this imitation slowly and ever so gently the split within our so human heart is healed. This is why we again, and again, trudge the road to the Bethlehem within, always for the first time. There is a Christmas song ,that no matter how often I hear it, it stops me. "So this is Christmas, and what have you done...? So this is Christmas 2012 and what am I doing to make this year's celebration a new and a more vital life enhancing experience? What am I doing to discover, in a new way, my personal Bethlehem and there have an encounter with the Mary, the Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, The Wise Men, who are present in my life right now? To complete the Christmas pageant within. I must also ask for the honesty to face the Herod within!!! Now that real courage. If I am not working to enhance the spiritual ten I will be a death dealer rather than a life giver. There is a Herod within our families, parishes, church, and society. A power for destruction that must be faced, and countered. The religious leaders of that time knew the answers, but did not get to Bethlehem. They had the answers, they had the knowledge, but the journey to The Vulnerable One was never made. I wonder that is why is was so easy for them to conspire, with the successor of Herod kill The Man, This Child matured into? The journey to Bethlehem, is a journey of the heart. We are told: if we do not find spirit of Christmas within our hearts, we will not find it under a tree. May you all be blessed with the strengthen, and courage to make that so difficult trudge to The Crib within. May you find there peace, and consolation. May you embrace, without any fear, The Vulnerable Child within. May that embrace release within you all that is necessary for you to come to the belief that the human and the divine are at peace in the depths of who you are. That is your right. That is your dignity. That is the essence of who you are, protect it as if you were defending The Christ Child, which in fact you are. Wonder-ffffuuuullllll.