The Costs of Chaos

Everyday demands we drown in media, alert at every moment to “news” telling us what to be afraid of next.  Cultivating a spirit of calm has likely never been simple, but as real and imaginary threats bombard us, the toll is too high.  Take a moment to be fascinated.

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Resurrection

Resurrection is unexpected life, the boundless joy of another moment to spend in being, with others, in memory or in daydream.  Heschel observes in The Sabbath that time is eternity in disguise, and so it is, forever eluding us, gone as quickly as it appears, yet immutable in memory just as it is malleable in fantasy.

There are so many ways we might capture that unexpected life in everyday ways. Perhaps it is the stranger’s smile.  Perhaps an inquisitive wag and sniff from a canine passerby.  Perhaps someone offers a seat and strikes up a conversation.  There are 86,400 seconds in a day.  The Resurrection calls us to put them to good use.

Today evoked not just joy, but also the sadness of life, of love distorted.  Yet within acknowledgment of loss came a kindling, a desire to no longer withhold love as if in punishment, a resurrection in its own right.

Today held no expectations, for afflictions had had their grip for months. Yet the stone has been rolled back, the burial clothes cast off.

Alleluia.

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Night Shines as the Day

Darkness is not dark for you,

and night shines as the day.

Darkness and light are but one.

This 12th verse of Psalm 139 is a favorite.  As I think on it, it is likely that the lion’s share of conceptions I carry about God are nestled in a handful of psalms and passages in the New Testament.   This image in particular, this call to the immutable eternal, of God’s omnipotence over all, including day and night, spoke to me this week as the volume of discord seemed ever to be amplifying.  I felt encouraged to pull the plug on the enticement of events and positions and busy-ness.

As a result, did I have a magnificent spiritual encounter?  Well.  I skipped services, fearing that my soul would be in danger of perdition were I subjected to one more hapless happy homily, and I skipped all but the most minimal chores, and I did a few odds and ends, and I watched old and new movies.

I had an odd sense that I would encounter a neighbor and but an hour later, there she was. A great chat was had.

Did I have a magnificent spiritual encounter?

I am inclined to say yes.

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Unexpected

Just sitting around in between chores, when suddenly an angel appears.  As if.

We take this story quite seriously, giving it foundational significance, getting right to the core message (“Messiah on the way!”) while hardly pausing at the shocking implausibility of the entire matter.

I know what I would do if I were sitting here and suddenly an angel swept in.

I would call the doctor straightaway.  Get some medication.  Get back on an even keel.  Square things away.

But that is just precisely the point, is it not?  The issue isn’t the coming of the Messiah, who, being God, could chose the where and when, being, after all, their creator.

The very point is the implausibility.

What response shall we make to the most unexpected of joys?

How shall we live?

Of late I have noticed minute shifts, imperceptible on their own, which have in the aggregate created a new spirit in me, a more open and welcoming outlook, a new willingness to engage, and yes, at times, a child-like enchantment.  Laughter bubbles up, and there is joy in simple things.

All this is seemingly without a source, yet that cannot be.   What is irrefutable is how welcome is this new life within.

And perhaps this is, one might hope, just one of many ways in which one might say, “let it be done to me according to thy will.”

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For This I Died and Came Back to Life?

Yes, for this.  For the silly, for the thoughtless, for, most especially, the helpless.  Today, having read and reflected on John 10:11-16, having brought to mind the unceasing acts of corporate cruelty to which all and sundry seem to be subjected, I felt, as I do not always allow myself to feel, a true and abiding love of Jesus, the Christ, the Redeemer, but most of all, the good shepherd.   The hired hands: that is, the boards of directors, the elected officials, the abundant yet effluent hierarchies everywhere, care not for their sheep and will flee on a moment’s notice, saving themselves while sacrificing others.  A story known too well, told too often, felt to the bone, such that life is sapped of its sacredness and supplanted with scariness.

Yet He knows his and they know his voice.  And there will be others.

And with that in mind, today seemed to call for, not majestic scenes, but rather a bit of something to bring a smile.

 

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The Empty Tomb, the Word Fulfilled

On Saturday night, I finally made peace with myself about my hatred of ceremony.  No more resisting or dithering about with rationales.  I just don’t like it.  That is all right. Allowing this without judgment or condemnation let me relax and be awed by the adult Baptisms and first Holy Communions and Confirmations.   Just awesome!  It takes so much to say, there is something more important than texting, I am going to declare myself for it and conform my life to it.

And what a life has been promised, as in Romans 6: 1-4.

Romans 6: 1 – 4. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized pinto Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

In the midst of all the goings on I realized that Satan just loves that I am confused and angry and hurt about some church issues that have cropped up.  Nothing better than to drown out the message of the resurrection with resentment and worry.  Glad that I am on to this trick, the plague of thinking seems to have abated.

How good today was, with so many small pleasures, with so much eternal joy.

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Not Chronos, Kairos: Were you there?

Did my level best to avoid the crush of big deals on Good Friday, hoping for a peaceable gathering to say the stations of the cross.  So many traditions abandoned.  A text full of clever ‘relevancies,’ of the sort that drove the pious from the church in tears in the wake of Vatican II.  All stayed right where they were in the pews.  Would it be too much to ask those gathered to walk the stations as has been the custom for so long?  Did not think that I would be one to long for tradition, but I did.  Likewise I longed for the kid in the pew ahead of me to stop banging around.  My concentration was so broken I felt compelled to mention it.  Great offense was taken.  How dare I take note of the child’s persistent, insistent rudeness?

So it is not unfair to say that I suffered on Good Friday, in whatever minor ways came my way, including bureaucracy within banking.

But on to the point.  The spiritual and the Ignatian traditions invite us to visit the scene of the Crucifixion, to walk the walk, smell the blood, feel the pain, endure the anguish, and, finally, to lose our friend.  To be enveloped in darkness and quaking and the rending of the temple veil.  Not our time versus old times, but time transcendent, when all things happen, when we are present in our love and loss and complicity and confusion and sorrow.

And what did you do, member of the crowd?  Were you there cheering for death?   Were you there hoping against hope for deliverance?  Did you wish you could stay the proceedings but feared to act?  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

This photograph embodies the darkness with hope still radiant over the hill.  The link that follows provides historical information about that treasured hymn.

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19th Century African American Spiritual: Were You There?

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