Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Another........Spring...... To.... Be.. ???

The last six months have been some of the best months of my life. Ever since Pope Francis was elected there has been such a wonder-full change. When things were, as an old friend would say, "not looking good," along comes The Holy spirit and blesses us. That Holy Spirit sure has a way of getting things done. As the result of these " workings," I have been blessed to be "bookended" by two great Popes. I was ordained into the church that was led into the new Spring which sprung from the reforms of The Second Vatican Council. This council was called into session by then Pope, and soon to be Saint John The Twenty Third. Pope John was elected just to be a caretaker Pope. To keep the church going until a certain cardinal would be old enough. The Holy Spirit had other plans. The result was truly earth shattering, or more to the point "church-shattering." Those early years were amazing. There was springing up of ministry, upon ministry to meet the challenges that came about with the empowerment of the laity. It was no longer father's church, parish, pastoral council etc. it was the people's. Then words like collaboration, inter-dependance, team building, shared responsibility, accountability,  job description, evaluation, paper trail, etc., became part and parcel of our vocabulary. Unfortunately that did not last very long.

Change is unsettling, and triggers a  great deal of fear. Fear, as we know is the opposite of faith. Does not that leave a great question to be asked, and answered with time??? Let us be honest about what happened. Honesty frees us to live in the truth. The truth will set us free, but not before it tees us off. Anger brought to faith-full prayer is the way to compassion. For those of us who have trudged the road, it was sad to see, and even harder to bear, the pendulum swings backwards. As a result, "The good old days" eventually became the present day reality. We had to endure so much of what was the vision of Vatican II, it was regulated to the back burner, and the power was turned off.  There the reforms sat alive, but dormant. That was our sad reality for decades."Man proposes, but God disposes," right? That "dormant" stage was not to be a lasting reality. God's great sense of humor, and mysterious timing has been again  revealed through the workings of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that blessed our Faith with John the Twenty Third has now gifted us with Pope Francis.  It is by no means a stretch of the imagination to say that another Spring Season has been bestowed upon us. We are on that dusty road, a road that has not been travelled for many years, which is leading us to regain the true vision of who we really are. We are being reminded of the fundamental fact that we all, humankind, are the beloved of our Gracious Mother/Father God. We are loved as we were loved in the eternal womb. Nothing changes, or can change that so simple a reality. We are loved as we are by a God Who does not or better still, CANNOT change Her/His love for us. It is only when our lenses are tweaked do we lose focus on who we are in the love of our  Infinite Lover. Since we are loved with an infinite love we will never, in this life ever have even the remotest idea of what it means to be loved by The Infinite Spirit of Love. What we can ever imagine that to be, will not even be close. Dream, and dream big, of what it means to be loved without condition, restriction, or reservation, sad to say we will not be close. Is it not sad that we settle for limited, restricted, and conditioned, as the way we are loved by our Eternal Lover. That it's right we have been loved from eternity by this Love. A love we are told we must claim again, and again, every moment of our lives. This must be a real commitment on our part, so the commitment of our Beloved may be reverenced, and celebrated. We cannot earn, deserve, or qualify for this, it is a pure unadulterated gift. It is so great that we are inclined to not only question the extent of this love, there are those who question its very reality. It is just plain too good. As one author wrote, "If it is too good then it is God."  Why is it that we are more ready to accept the negative without question, but question the positive???

That  reinforcement of Pope Francis of lovability of each individual, no matter what, brings us back to a simple truth. This simple truth, our Pope wants us "keep simple," not complicate it. That is ego at work. We must remind ourselves, again and again, we are the beloved.  We are loved just the way we are. Is this easy? No way. It is a moment to moment struggle, especially when we are alone, on our own. When one spends time alone it's more like doing hard time. When alone we have to face again and again our issues of "negativity, addiction, fear, and control" (Rohr). From my own experience it does not get any easier. As I spend time away from the distractions of the world, I have mistakenly so imagined it would get easier. On the contrary for me it getting more and more challenging. When I get to the point of where I think I cannot be surprised any more, I am surprised, big time.

The journey into the depths of our broken humanity really leaves one broken, bruised, beaten, just like Someone else. The One we call, The Crucified One. Through the experience of each and every crucifixion we are lead into an ever deepening encounter with The Crucified One within. As a result, the Resurrection becomes an ever deepening reality as well. All this is summed up in "no pain, no gain."  So listening to the 
Pope speak about his limitation has given me permission to grow in honesty with my sinfulness. Knowing it is only through the acceptance of my screwed-up-ness that I can have a vital relationship with The God "of mercy and compassion." In this way, I am brought to deep understanding of The Living Father-God that Jesus, The Christ spoke about  in 75% of  parables. So now my life becomes a parable. Parables do not answer questions, they draw one deeper into The Question.
The following is something I wished I had read so many years ago. Then I have to remind myself of the adage, "When the student is ready, the master  appears." This is what one of my "masters," Henri Nouwen, has written. "As soon as we are alone...inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again.

Entering a 
private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires.  On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves in full force. We, (I am so guilty here) often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude
all the more important." Not any easier, but......"more important." This I have to accept, not like!!!