Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Good, bad, or ugly. Let them transform me into Your image.

August 14-17, 2016


You can't see seeds once they are planted.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17

Nondual knowing is living in the naked now, the “sacrament of the present moment.” This consciousness will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us. Words by themselves will invariably divide and judge the moment; pure presence lets it be what it is, as it is. –Richard Rohr

So I rode up Sentential Peak again Sunday morning. For the first time in like over six months. Slowly. So slowly that this guy passed me, running. But at least I didn’t stop. But it would have been okay if I had. But I didn’t. And I did pass a bunch of people, walking. But that doesn’t matter because they were walking forward. Forward and up.

And really those morning thoughts, and yesterday’s morning thoughts and today’s morning thoughts were framed by The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio. And a line out of Randy Reynold’s sermon Saturday night sermon, You can't see seeds once they are planted, as we wait through the hard winters for the bright green sprigsAnd a question one of my nephew’s asked his dad, my brother: “I don’t know if I really love God, Dad.” The statement fell flat in his bedroom. Sixteen years of careful (and conservative) Christian education, replete with twelve years of ABeka-anchored elementary homeschooling, obligatory Sunday school attendance, and fairly consistent daily mealtime devotions slowly drained from the room. He continued, “I mean, how can you truly love someone that you never have really met—someone who has never made it beyond something-that-you-study or read stories about?” And a conversation with Cameron and Alan at Kimche Time about people who are headed off to the pig trough and what can we do about it. Not much. Wait for spring. 

And I was thinking a lot about that because I taught Sunday School that morning, twice. Once to the little kids and then again to the big kids. And I told them the story of the Prodigal Son and the Father of Love who waited, eyes squinting into the setting sun, for even the slightest shadow of the repentant beloved leaving the knee-high muck of feeding pigs. And Jack my helper said I did a good job of describing that mud. I guess I have lots of practice doing what C. S Lewis describes in his sermon on the weight of gloryWe are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

And besides the reflection of big question of whether these stories are true to my little circle of listeners, or simply another version of the Minions and Frozens that populate their imagination. Last week Everette explained to me that Jesus does magic.

I mean, how can you truly love someone that you never have really met?

How can you believe if you have not thrust your hand into his side and stuck your fingers through the nail-pierced hands?

And in my heart I can sort of understand that the Holy Spirit abiding in Christ-followers could show the world Who He Is. Could, in that we have the power. But would we Christ-followers walk so closely in His footsteps that others would not be led astray?

But my head looks around and sees the Church wandering around in all directions, see us stumbling about in the shadows, very like those whom Christ prayed would receive the full measure of joy and complete unity from the Father, but whom He knew would shortly be scattered all to their own homes, leaving Him alone.

Yet He was not alone, because the Father was with Him.

Until that last forsaken moment.

But we cannot see the seeds planted, before they have sprung up with new life. We see through a mirror darkly, not as things truly are.

Simone and Everette are with Nona this morning, which gave me time to read and reread the parting words of Jesus to His followers in the gospel of John. And He repeats Himself a lot, the same way I repeat myself all day long to not-such-good-listeners about independent variables and strong leads and progressive reforms, lest they forget, lest they don’t understand, lest they don’t believe Him the first time.

Lest I don’t believe.

You will be prosecuted. You will suffer.
Ask anything in My name, and you will receive it.
That you might have joy and peace.
And most of all, that we might know the love of God that is within us, so that the world will know that Jesus is the One.

Thus, today, Dear Father, let me live in what is true, Your true presence, this weight of glory, this glory that you gave to Your son Jesus, and which Has given to us, His friends. His chosen friends appointed to go bear fruit.

And Audrey Assad sang again and again this morning, under the billowing sunrise:
O happy fault that gained for me the chance to know You, Lord
To touch Your wounded side and know the joy of my reward
I know, I know, and I believe You are the Lord
I know, I know, and I believe You are the Lord
Help my unbelief.

Help my unbelief.