Wednesday, August 1, 2012
"Just to be is a blessing, just to be is holy" wrote Abraham Heschel. I find it so hard and difficult to just, be. I am more comfortable in "the doings of “life", " in the happenings of life". I have to really work on allowing life to be what it is right now. I have to work on not looking beyond the present, so as to enjoy all that is being given to me in the "right now". I have to work on developing a greater reverence for “the sacrament of the present moment". It is so much easier for me to be scheming and planning. (Feeding the ego. Does it ever die?) Nature has helped to slow me down and that has happened in more ways than one. The energy is not there. I do not have that old, or should I say that younger, "get up and go". That has plain disappeared and is nowhere to be found. The other way is that nature has a way of just stopping me in my tracks and all I have to say is "WOW". I am brought to that place of, wonder. A sacred place. A sacred space. Why? From that place of wonder, all prayer, all philosophy, all theology finds its origin. As I have said before, my Dad is the one who opened my eyes to see the beauty that is nature. He taught me how to be aware of the possibility that in each new place there is a gift to be discovered. My Dad really enjoyed introducing family and friends to places that were a source of awe and wonder. Over the years, I have begun to allow the place, space and moment to speak its truth. Sometimes it is wonder-full. Other times it is awe-full. Then other times it is a place of pain, suffering, confusion, delusion, fear, powerlessness, and disease. These were in my father's life. He was a silent sufferer. He was a man of great prayer. The depth of which I was not privy to until after his sudden death. His heart attack was a blessing, as it saved him from the ravages of brain cancer. He was blessed with a quiet death. He just slipped away before anyone was aware of it. Now, as I become more aware of the life he lived, I am ever more grateful for the sacrament of his life. I have learned over the years that pain, suffering and prayer go together. Suffering not brought to prayer is just plain destructive. Pain by its self has no redeeming value. Pain brought to prayer opens us up to a new way of seeing, acting and believing. Over these many years, I have made, well let me get honest here, I have been forced to make, Thomas Merton's , "Prayer of Surrender" part and parcel of the prayer life I have been given. I do not know how often all I have been able to say are the following consoling, strengthening, words: "God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead, nor do I really know myself." I am consoled with the knowledge that Merton wrote these words at a time he was looked on as the one with all the answers. It must have come as a great surprise to those who looked on Merton as a great spiritual guide and writer. In todays language, he appeared to have things really wired. These honest words tell a different story. Thank you Thomas Merton for your great honesty. Your honesty frees us to be honest with who we are and where we are at, at each and every moment of our lives. We are liberated to be who we really are, not who we are expected to be, or think we should be. This IS the gift the spiritual journey bestows on us. With Merton's words this week, combined with the wisdom of Rahner a few weeks ago, “I am the blind alleys of all your paths…", we are presented with a great freedom. A freedom that has ALWAYS been there, but for one reason or another it has not been present in our everyday consciousness. For it to become an essential part of that consciousness we have a job of work to do. Yes, the spiritual journey does involve a great deal of work. It is our life long job, but it is a different type of job. When we work at a job we see results. We are conditioned to see results. If the boss does not see results, we are in trouble. That is a challenge, unfortunately, that flows over into the church, and has to be faced. There are times that financial, and other resources, must be placed at the disposal of ministries that will add nothing to the borrow line of the parish or diocese. These expenditures are DEMANDED of parish, diocese, and universal church so that those who are an authentic presence of the Gospel message may have the resources to be who they have been called to be. They will be empowered to break the ground. In time, others will come to sew the seed. At some future date, others will reap the harvest. Is it not great that God's time is not our time. Yet so annoying???? Results. Results. Results. What a curse that word is. So many are obsessed with results. Their identity as a person is based on results and rewards. Results are a blessing in one reality and a curse in the reality that REALLY counts. In the real and lasting world it is not what we see, it is what we do not see that really matters. When we journey into the spiritual realm, here too, we are asked to do a job of work. Then, everything changes, to our ego's borrow. In the realm of the spirit there is a constant war being waged and air is all about wages, results and rewards. As we work in the spiritual realm, The Kingdom of God, we are asked to settle for, not being able to see the results. What is happening is none of our business. It is God's . We cannot understand His workings, so we have to be content to do the work we can do. We can do this work, with the help of grace, but we do not like the work. Mistake. The true self sees this as essential, the false self (ego) sees it as absurd. The ego wants no part of the work of The Realm. It will fight it tooth and nail. It ,the egocentric ego, sees this as a battle for survival. The ego has an ally, the ally's name is, pick the one that is fighting, threatening your belief in your belovedness right now. Take your pick of the following names, "the deceiver", “the divider”, "the prosecutor", “the devil”, “satan”, these are all different names for the same reality. Each name, will reveal one aspect of the power that is going to fight you all the way until you enter the safety of The Eternal Kingdom. This work has a name, and it is called, "The Work Of Letting GO". We hear it said “I really struggled at work at first”. Then. over time I found it easier. The work, the job of "letting go" is a daily struggle, and even with age it does not get any easier. As Baretta would say, "You can take that to the bank".