Continued from Previous Post:
When praying in desperation over someone’s sickbed, we receive as a sharp shock the realisation of how desperately frail human existence is; but do we give equal thanks to our Father for its robustness in all the good times? “Yes, my Lord”, in all the good times and through all the bad times. You are our rock Lord, upon which we build confidently our solid foundations; and by following your will for us, we affirm that our treasures are indeed not only of this Earth, that our bodies are not solely who we are, whilst giving thanks for our shelter within them whilst here as well as the countless blessings heaped on our heads throughout our time on Earth such as the very food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the shelter we call home, our friends and families and a stranger’s smile. We do not keep our atmosphere regulated, or gravity fixed, nor do we keep the planets in their rotation, yet we are reliant for life on all these things beyond our control, working in the ways that make life possible on this beautiful blue globe travelling through space. Considering these multitudes of things that make life possible; we have deep reason to give thanks and praise; not because of any need in God from us, but because we need to give these offerings of our gratitude and acknowledgement of such power and glory to Him.
I say “Yes, my Lord” calls us to intimate attentiveness of being. It calls us to raise our awareness of the pending call to action, at any time, in any encounter, ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere’ as the song goes. We are asked to be mindful to God, to listen carefully, to be fully engaged in our consciousness and use our faculties; not numb them with substances or situations that lower our sense of Divine Presence. Our bodies are temples for the Spirit of the Lord; temples which if attended properly may yield his presence to us. Our temple can be a welcoming and inviting place of encounter, fit to meet our Lord if we tend it mindfully. It can be a pleasing place to the Lord. Within this temple lies the secret of secrets, the place where Lover and Beloved meet, beyond time and space, in encounters that may never find adequate expression in mere words, but whose witnessing is the very food of life itself and joy as well as solace to the Soul.
Yet our covenant with our Lord is also timeless when we say “Yes”. It is ongoing and asks of us a certain way of choosing, a certain way of living. It is not just a covenant of the mind and spoken word. It is a covenant of the heart; which asks of us that we live according to the ways we were taught by Jesus when he walked among us. We are to love each other as he loved us. We are to offer the other cheek when someone offends us. We are to give what is due to Caesar as well as give to God what is due to God, and not confuse the two. We are to be the Good Samaritan. We are to honour the Ten Commandments handed down through Moses. We are to store up our treasure in heaven and not on earth. And we are to pray as he taught us. We are to share our bread and our wine in remembrance of him, to share our common possessions and not covert what others have. We are asked to forgive each other as we are forgiven by our Father in heaven. We are asked to become as children, to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves, [Matthew 10:16] because he sends us out amongst wolves. We must retain our innocence as children of God, whilst not being fools. Further, we must not worry about where our next meal will come from, or how we shall clothe ourselves, for our Father knows of our needs before we do. Apart from the Ten Commandments, these are guides of behaviour, not rules and Thomas Keating reminds us that God gave us only Ten Commandments urging us as humans not to be so willing to create more that we must tie ourselves up with in our daily spiritual practises!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25.
A powerful piece of writing by Thomas Merton dramatically portrays the intentional vulnerability of God in and through Creation as He offers Himself to us in Love.
‘The shadows fall. The stars appear. The birds begin to sleep.
Night embraces the silent half of the earth.
A vagrant, a destitute wanderer with dusty feet, finds his way down a new road.
A homeless God, lost in the night, without papers, without identification,
Without even a number, a frail expendable exile
Lies down in desolation under the sweet stars of the world and entrusts himself to sleep.
Book of Hours.
I want to howl, animal like in my hurting wounds; my hot flowing tears, offer them to the sky and to the earth, for all the times I have failed to see my intentionally vulnerable Father and in my inadequacy did less than I could have done. Forgive me Father; I knew not what I did, when I had lost my senses to the point that I did not see you right in front of my own eyes.
I say “Yes, my Lord”, but how many of us get caught up with these real issues of providing for ourselves and turn our lives into complex versions of modern-day slavery, that leave us little time to live as we are supposed to live. There is a responsibility implicit here; that our choices are far more important with long reaching consequences that we often have no appreciation of. We may find ourselves in hostile or barren places in our lives landscapes where, because our own desires and wants, and small will, we have walked blindly into inevitable brick walls. Finding ourselves trapped we are unable to say spontaneously “Yes”; and then the dismantling of all we have created may be harsh and hard to experience. Reversing out of tight corners is not necessarily straight forward in life. I know it was not easy for my husband and I. But distressing as these changes can be whilst going through them; we are loved by Jesus and our Father who knows better than we, what muddles and scrapes we humans get ourselves into: and how best to get us back where we belong, as free children of a Living God again. I say “Yes” to trust him. He has proved more trustworthy than I on everything.
[To be continued in part 3]
(C) Stephanie Rudd 2013