Thursday, June 25, 2015

One last cup of coffee before we head up and up.

How can we describe the spiritual rebirth of which Jesus speaks to Nicodemus? An adequate description is impossible, precisely because this rebirth I'd beyond our intellectual and emotional grasp.

As to what spiritual rebirth is, however,me can say that persons reborn in the Spirit are characterized by their singlemindedness. They have only one desire to do God's will in all things, or - to put it in Jesus' words to Nicodemus - to"do the truth" and thus to "come out into the light so what they are doing may plainly appear as done in God" (John 3:21). They are so caught up in God's love that everything else can only receive its meaning and purpose in the context of that love. They ask only one question: "what is pleasing to the Spirit of God?" And as soon as they have heard the sound of the Spirit, they follow its promptings even when it upsets their friends, disturbs their environment, and confuses their admirers. They believe unhesitatingly in Jesus, the Son of God, who was sent into the world "not to condemn the world, but at the world, through Him might be saved." Their faith is so deeply rooted that the are un afraid - not only of other people's opinions, but even of God's judgements, because their rebirth has brought them into the light. Henri Nouwen, "Reborn from Above"

Yep, this is my next little meditation from my Henri Nouwen book, and well, he must have met Andres Vega who lives in Monedanado, Spain.  An adequate description is impossible, but this is a man reborn in the Spirit, who is characterized by his singlemindedness, whose only desire is to do God's will in all things.

On that road just a little over a year ago, that frightful road which heads straight up into the clouds that Tracy and I are riding up this morning, where he knelt to receive Jesus into his life, he announced that today, on his birthday, God had given the most unimaginable gift ever, a new life.

And no one in this beautiful town of 2,000 can believe he is the same man. And He is like the demonized man who once healed, Christ sent back to his home to declare all that God has done for him.  And Andres lives and breathes and speaks light. And every one calls him The Pilgrim, because he has let his hair and beard grow long, and he uses a walking stick. And his rotted flesh leg is now clean and beautiful and pain free. And it has been a process, walking in this light of forgiveness and reconciliation.

And every single moment of that day in the sun of enjoying a birthday breakfast with his family and mother-in-law at their favorite restaurant in front of the cathedral has become memorialized in their minds. The two Americans wheeling their bikes into the plaza. The daughter who smiled and said "hola" and who hesitated slightly like she wanted to say more. The mother who went down the steps to her bike, paused in prayer, and then headed back up the stairs to kneel and say, The Lord God wants to show you His power and love by healing you in the name of Jesus."

And the pain disappeared. Four years of piercing pain lifted. From an infection after a mining accident. And the impossible restoration. And the neurologist announcing that he did not know, he could not understand how this could be. And the recovery of the left side of his body numb and helpless from the stroke.

But what has really been transformed by the light of the Spirit is his heart. He had been a driven man, focused in filling the hole in his heart with money and things, every moment accounted for and squeezed. And all this has been released into the care of His loving Father who provides just what is necessary. And this moment with these two Americans is what he needed, to step into faith.

And this is the sweetest family imaginable, Mercedes the nurse, David the eleven-tear-old soccer player, and the mother-in-law who can't stop hugging us, and their friends, everyone loves to tell the story. And mostly these days, Andres talks to the pilgrims, all the pilgrims who walk or ride up the cobbled street to visit this ancient church and eat pilgrim cake. Well, he doesn't talk, he listens. All they want is someone to listen to their story, so that is his gift. And he tells them if his own Camino that he is walking every day. And some of them believe him, and some if them not, but who is he to judge?

And now I must head on up that hill.

But may yesterday be likewise an Ebenezer memorial for the rest of my life, of the power and love of our glorious beyond understanding, God.