Light comes and goes. Now we see it, now we don't. But what is our memory of The Light, Whose appearance we celebrated just a few short weeks ago? Compared to The Light, all other lights are like comparing the flickering light of a candle to the dazzlingly brilliant, blinding light of the sun. That comparison falls so short of the reality. We have the same problem when we want to speak of The Light, whose entrance into our world we celebrated, in faith-filled prayer-filled celebrations. What has been, left us with now that The Epiphany is only a memory, and a vague one at that or is it still lighting our way??? What is our understanding now of that great feast of which The Season of Christmas is seen as a "bridge toward?" Where is That Light leading us to, or have we out of fear substituted, substitute lights? Are we now leading lives of greater freedom, or are we enclosed in the security of our self-made prisons? Have we become the victims of accepted behavior rather than the right behavior? Have we allowed ourselves to camouflage our true reality, and surrender our freedom to the hellish practice of people pleasing? What a price we pay for that so readily accepted behavior??? The truth WILL set us free. We in turn will draw others, indeed may force them, into the freeing light, and the safety of the real truth. Illusion is a very lonely place to dwell in. Merton has this warning for you and I: "If I allow myself to degenerate into the being I am imagined to be by other men, God will have to say to me, "I know you not." Prayer from the gut works. It comes the reality God knows and sustains in existence.
Here is a little something to practice. Before you answer a phone call, respond to an email, or any other communication requiring you to do something, say the following at least 10-20 times:" I release the need I have to be admired." You will be doing a quarter of what you are doing now. Your ego will not like it. You will not be caught up in doing. The true self that will emerge from this practice will enjoy an inner-peace and a sense of well-being that cannot be bought. This is priceless. What do you pay, NOTHING. It cannot be bought. It is pure gift. Yet there are so few who are prepared to do that nothing, which will bestow upon them everything that they need. In the long run it comes down to our trust in the essential goodness of our Prodigal Lover.
Our inner-truth is hard to face. Our inner-reality we much prefer to either hide or deny. We want to keep ourselves in darkness rather than risk exposing ourselves to the piercing light of the truth. Yet there can be no spiritual journey unless we are prepared to be led into the depths of who we are. Oh how often I have wished this was not so. Thank God, the journey into a healthy honesty is ongoing. We will never have absolute honesty. The goal is to be as honest as one can be in this present moment. Whatever bubbles up will not overcome us. Since God, Higher Power, Savior, is present in fullness we will have what we need to face that which left to ourselves we could not deal with. We have that great certainty that nothing will be revealed that God, Higher Power, Great Spirit and we cannot face and deal with. We will NEVER be tested beyond our strength.(Paul). So when we journey within, we will encounter our innate poverty stemming from our broken humanity. We will encounter a hungry, naked, homeless, wandering, stranger that is in desperate need of food, shelter, clothing, a comforting home. After the initial shock, the initial desire to reject, something happens. How it happens is none of our business. We are in the mysterious realm of Grace. We are not in the business of understanding, an ego trip, we are drawn to a slow gradual acceptance. An acceptance that will be given, as a gift, to each one of us in a unique way. This gift appears as we, not only encounter, but journey with, as of now, the frightening stranger.
The gifts we are given, are of necessity, given to be given away. If they are not given away they disappear. "Whatever we keep for ourselves we lose, whatever we give away we keep," This is the danger we have to face. Now we can read, listen to, and eventually hear the words of the prophet Isaiah as he relays to us this command from our God: "Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall be quickly healed." What a great promise is contained in those words. Our wounds will be quickly healed as we make that inner journey of discovery and encounter. As the healing power of Grace-full mercy slowly works, and believe me it is slow, we get an inkling of what is to come. We are now more ready to meet the stranger and are not afraid. Why? May I suggest it is because we have met another, stranger. We have met, and are continuing to encounter the inner stranger. From that encounter and the continuous deepening conversation, through grace, a sense of welcome and hospitality is now replacing the old fear. The life of, and the workings of grace is a mystery. Then we slowly realize "The place of the wound, becomes the place of the gift. The greater the wound the greater the gift." WOW!
As we are again clothed with the dignity of being the beloved daughter/son, we recognize more readily the innate goodness of all people, and all of creation. That part of us that we once oppressed is now sensitive to others who are the victims of oppression. They are to be called to the freedom that is theirs because of their belovedness. Belovedness can never be taken away. It can at times be denied but never surrendered. Why? It is not ours to surrender. This is God's gift over which we have NO control. All we can do is surrender to the embrace of The Prodigal God, Who is our Beloved, and is revealed to by The Light. There is a process to that surrender. I/we do not surrender once forever. Nothing in the spiritual life is done once forever. When I found that out, the hard way, I was, and still am a very unhappy camper. Then acceptance is a process, not an event. This, however, is a reality I do not have to like, just accept. So easy to say, or write, yet so difficult in practice.