Saturday, January 19, 2013

After Christmas Epiphany....What?

The following is the letter I have recently sent to my friends. I would like to share it with you, my blog friends, as well…... January 2013 Dear Friends, With this wonder-full Feast of the Baptism of The Lord the curtain has been lowered on yet another Christmas-Epiphany Season. We can now put away all the decorations. As we closet those decorations, do we also lose sight of the great gifts that are to be celebrated every day, not just once a year? What is the new gift that has been gifted to you, because you have again journeyed, in faith, to Bethlehem. There was that old song, "Why can't Every day be Christmas Day?" Our enlightened and enlivened faith tells us that it is. Yep! You heard right, or need I say, you have read it right. Every day is not only Christmas Day, it is also Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and on and on. This mystery of the life we are called to live has such depth, we have to break it down into manageable bite sizes. It must be broken down and fed to us so we are slowly and ever so gently drawn into the mystery of who we are. We are being called in every moment of every day to delve ever deeper into the mystery of who we are called to be, and who has done this calling. These questions slowly reveal to us that the Mystery of The Incarnation is alive and well as it makes its dwelling within us. As the mystery of who we are is entered into, so also is the mystery of The Living God is being explored. One cannot exist without the other. "We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings IMMERSED in the human experience" (A new translation I just came across, neat?) Now we remind ourselves of what Metz wrote "We are born human, and we spend our whole lives discovering what human means," We have to journey through the sacrament of our humanity so as to encounter The Divine life within. That in itself is a wonder-full gift, but there is more. With Our God the gifts never stop. It is of the essence of Our Gracious God to be constantly giving. His creative love is operative in every aspect of our lives, that is, in each and moment in every moment of every day. Hence we have what is called the sacrament of the present moment. My prayer must be, "Lord grant that I might see Who You are, and who I am in your love." Jesus, Who became The Christ, hears, at His Baptism, these awe-full, wonder-full words: "You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased." These words are directed to you and I as well. Each and every one of us is "the beloved" daughter/son. As beloved, we are loved without condition, restriction, or reservation. We have the great burden of never being able to earn, deserve, or qualify for the gifts bestowed on us as beloved. Unfortunately we do not hear enough, or reflect enough on who we are, as seen through the lens of God's, gracious love. This is the love in which we find our origin. This is the love that is our destiny, This is the love we seek, and unfortunately never find on our journey through this "vale of tears." The place where The Incarnation continues is within. Yes! in some Mysterious way the Divine is perfectly, hidden and revealed in our broken humanity. Not in our perfectionism is the Divinity revealed, it is in our powerlessness, and our brokenness that this miracle takes place. This is a description of our personal Bethlehem. (This takes tremendous honesty.) Our Savior is revealed, again and again in our weakness, not in our strength. This the great gift of the spiritual journey. On this mysterious journey, that at times makes no sense, we are in the daily process of discovering the powerlessness of power and the power of powerlessness(Rohr). The prophet Jesus came that we would have life and have it to the fullest. To have that fullness we must make sure we do not get caught up in the dis-ease that comes with perfectionism. Which is the denial of the Authentic Identity into which we have been immersed. "In order to go on living, one must ..escape the death involved in perfectionism.(Arendt.) The latter negates the need for a savior and our journey to enter Bethlehem. We must claim our belovedness in every moment of the life we are given to lead. As we are the beloved so is each and every person we meet, or encounter. Hidden behind what is seen is The Unseen, and Unseeable. Are we open to the many, many epiphanies that are part and parcel of this so called "human journey." Are we selective where we will look for the revelation of The Presence? WE are to "be alert" as our God breaks into our lives through the most unlikely people, and the most embarrassing of circumstances. We have to discover that in spite of what many may say God does have a sense of humor. As I get older I am becoming more aware of This Trickster. This is The Year of Faith. We are encouraged to rediscover the wonder-full gifts that come to us through the lens of a life giving faith in order to accomplish this we must take the risk of letting go the familiar. This is why this letter is coming at this time. Also to learn it is by reflection, our deepest truth is always being revealed to us. I like that idea we live our life looking forward, but we understand looking backwards. Looking back at the recent, Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Season, what new understanding leads you to a more lively and enlivened life of faith? Has the gift given a new meaning to the liturgies you celebrate? Thank you for your kind remembrances during this past season of mystery. It feels great to be remembered. I thank you for being part of my life, and for allowing me to be a part of yours. You have been a source of nourishment and encouragement in the difficult, challenging times. There are more ahead as I am faced with the challenge of my aging body. That get up and go, has pretty much got up and disappeared over the horizon. So a new way of living is being adjusted to. I do not have to like this new reality, I just have to learn acceptance, acceptance is a process. Thank God this is a process that is directed by grace. "I believe, help my disbelief" is a daily prayer. Also Merton's, "God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead. Nor do I really know myself ...." This past summer, I only drove 7600 miles but I did hike many more miles than usual. I was able to check off a number of my bucket list items. However, my summer plans for this year are in flux because of health challenges. This year I will, hopefully celebrate my 50th anniversary of ordination on June 8th. At times I am shocked by this reality, isn't grace wonderful. The blog, is now bi-weekly, mostly. I was truly shocked recently, when I googled my name to see what appeared!!! I am now on Google News. How I got there I do not know!!!!! I have a book of the blogs, "Soul Searching" almost ready to go to print. It will also be an e-book. Say a prayer. May the richness of the past season be a lived reality for you. May it deepen the mystery of who you are, and the mystery hidden within the people, places, and events of your Incarnational living. May your presence be an epiphany for those blessed with an encounter with your deepest reality. (I'm sorry this demands great honesty) May the Gentle Presence of The Christ Child be the gentle transforming power in your life. May all who share your life, be led to desire the fullness of Life through you. What a mystery what a sacrament you are called to be. Blessings, to and on all. Fr. Joe. P.S. Do you like this idea? Or need it be one, and done?

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