Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Frail and Glorious - V

I heard a quote at the beginning of Criminal Minds last evening that I thought was insightful as I have reflected on the work within Macrina's book, the funeral at my church yesterday, the complications of an upcoming workshop this weekend...  Plus, I forgot we have communion this coming Sunday when I prepared the bulletin ahead of time since this workshop would take up Friday and Saturday...

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and
over again and expecting different results. I know I'm not insane.
This morning I am thinking that it is difficult to transform, to grow into the child of God who claims her potential, her glory.  Some days [like yesterday] it seems it takes more energy than I have available.  But, then I hear:

"Tomorrow, you promise yourself, will be different; yet, tomorrow is too often a repetition of today." ~ James T. Mccay (Criminal Minds)

According to the headlines splattered across the Internet last evening, my striving to embrace my gloriousness along with my frailty may be a waste of time anyhow.  If the world is to end this coming Saturday, then do I really want to spend my time grappling with Macrina's book, rewriting the bulletin, and working on my presentation for this workshop? : )

Okay, San...focus.  Macrina has been telling me that I have riches that I refuse to own.  Sort of like being given the most beautifully wrapped gift, and never opening it.  Who would do that? Acknowledging the truth behind Macrina's, Thomas Merton's, and so many other spiritual teachers who have walked on this journey...ME!

But, if, in my tiredness I allow my resident Demon to begin messing with my head...

It is my choice if I allow this little guy access to my head.  My best buddy quotes Henri Nouwen (?) to me occasionally, saying, "Sandi, when you are alone in your head...."

"....I know! I'm in enemy territory!"

And I smile.

I don't know if Nouwen said that...I can't find it under his quotes.  It may be one of my friend's originals.  Still, either way, the work of transforming, of becoming the child of God I, or anyone else, has been created to be takes effort, intentionality, and it helps a whole lot if you have friends willing to walk alongside you and give you truth in love. I would guess that originally, that would have been the role of the Church, yet Macrina writes that the Christian community has itself forgotten its splendor.
"Frailty and dust are given predominance in teaching. The possibility of splendor, glory, and holiness, the call to be saints, is like wealth hidden away. As we celebrate baptism in the future, perhaps we can begin to see the face of Christ being etched on the one being baptized rather than original sin being washed away." Overemphasis on the magical wiping away of sin has created some very bad habits in church people. These bad habits emerge from an attitude that Bonhoeffer calls cheap grace." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 22)
Macrina explains her understanding of this cheap grace by saying that the God of the person who is satisfied with cheap grace is a God who is always handling out rewards and fixing things up. The occupation of this God is to answer prayers.

Does this sound familiar?

Clinical Psychologist, Speaker,
Spiritual Guide, Therapist, and Writer
Day 2 from Week II of The Cup of Life:  "When we pray, how often do we say: 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening'? More often, I think, we say: 'Listen, Lord, for your servant is speaking!'" ~ Robert Wicks 

I still smile when I consider the truth of this statement and how I have begun watching my intent, my language, my heart...because of this insight.

Macrina believes that we/I have become  accustomed to this cheap grace of being "uninvolved."
Cheap Grace
"We've gotten used to worshiping with hearts that aren't converted. Worship coming from an unconverted heart can only be empty ritual. If we are into empty ritual it is no wonder that we find a baptism during the Eucharistic liturgy a bothersome burden adding little more than length to our Sunday worship." (Wiederkehr, p 23)
Honestly? I think this seems a bit harsh.  The congregations I have been a part of....I THINK...thoroughly enjoy a baptism! I least I know I enjoy the mystery and the action of baptism. I feel as though I am missing something in Macrina's thoughts. Maybe I am having trouble connecting her thoughts, because what she writes next...makes sense.
"The Israelite community was no different from our own. They, too, got used to the cheap grace by Yahweh throwing out manna to them. Like us, they forgot their part of the bargain.The covenant was two-sided: I will be your God AND you will be my people...'You shall be my people' is too costly for us to take seriously, so we keep it at a costs us time to get involved." (Ibid)
Sometimes, insight comes from talking
back and forth until...ah-ha!
I'm really confused.  When I began this chapter, I thought I was reading that I had been to hard on myself, not seeing the splendor and the glory within me because I focused only on the sin.  Yet, I'm now feeling as though Macrina is slapping my wrists for not taking my faith seriously.  I'm in need of some face-to-face conversation!

"In no way is it my intention to condemn people who seem to be satisfied with the cheap grace of having everything done for them and to them. The failure is not with the individual person, but with the total community. This is the system we've grown up in. We are not sufficiently aware of our connectedness to and our responsibility for one another. We do not fully appreciate the great honor it is to be brothers and sisters in the family of God." (Ibid)

"Little-Great-One, Come Home!" It sometimes seems like a difficult trek to find my way home. Yet, I have had glimpses as I travel.  At times I have experienced tastes and scents from "home".  I have had enough of these moments to know I want to continue. Putting this awareness in the words of this book I think I would say I've had enough crumbs to motivate me to continue, even on days when it seems as though the birds have eaten the crumbs and I am feeling a bit lost...a bit confused.  A song from The Chronicles of Narnia comes to mind...

I've got my memories
Inside of me
But I can't go back
Back to how it was
I believe you now
I've come too far
No I can't go back
Back to how it was
Created for a place
I've never known...

Belief over misery
I've seen the enemy
And I won't go back

Back to how it was
And I got my heart
Set on
What happens next
I got my eyes wide
It's not over yet
We are miracles
And we're not alone...

"We [I] are miracles and we're [I'm] not alone.  How do I know?

1 Corinthians 13:1-20 says,

1  If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
For now I see through the glass darkly...
 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

If I need something other than Paul...Psalm 29 says,
  1 Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, 
   ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
   worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

 3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
   the God of glory thunders,
   the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
   the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The Lord gives me strength and blesses me with peace...
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
   the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
   Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the LORD strikes
   with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
   the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD twists the oaks
   and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
 10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
   the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
11 The LORD gives strength to his people; 
   the LORD blesses his people with peace. 

By his own hand, God leadth me...

An old hymn to hum in my heart through out this day....He Leadth Me

God, even though I am not always understanding what Macrina writes, I know you are with me.  Lord, when I delve into these thoughts and as I carry them throughout my day, send your Holy Spirit to help me break through the cloudiness...and discover the crumbs you have placed in my midst. By your Spirit, help me to let go of my compulsive need to control so that you might truly lead me...what a blessed thought! AMEN! and AMEN!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

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