vision

The last of the leaves are falling all over the 10-acre wood these days. The trees are nearly barren. I can see all four borders of our property now, and the spaciousness helps me breathe deeply.
I wonder, as the sleep of winter approaches, does dying help us see beyond what’s right in front of us?
Does it give us a wider, longer view of existence, of our lives, of all that God is doing?

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St. Francis prays

I beg you, Lord
let the fiery, gentle power
of your love
take possession of my soul
and snatch it away
from everything under heaven
that I may die
for love of your love
as you saw fit to die
for love of mine.
amen.

that bag of seeds

Remember that bag of seeds from my previous post? I walked into the kitchen one morning and glanced at them and immediately felt a rush of negative emotions. They had grown moldy. I was sad. I was disappointed. And honestly, I was a little angry. Apparently, those seeds owed me something. They were supposed to stay nice so that I could plant them, and they would grow into healthy plants and bear fruit. What do you know, my capacity for arrogance and self-centeredness is well intact… also my ignorance of the fact that this was probably my own fault for not allowing them to thoroughly dry. I’ve been thinking about those moldy seeds for about a week now… and the sadness is still pricking my heart.

I read a new chapter in “Living the Incarnation: praying with Francis and Clare of Assisi.” The author was explaining their sense of kinship with Mary as a prototype for Christians. Each of us, they say, is called to birth the Lord Jesus in our own lives and encourage his birth in the lives of those around us. That means being open to God’s Presence within. Oh. We have to stay open, huh? I am realizing how closed I am lately. I think my soul is the thing that’s moldy… it’s been locked up in a plastic bag and the moisture from my undried tears has allowed mold to grow.

I have not paid attention to what has been going on inside me lately. I have filled my life with a lot of noise and the clutter of technology (and a whole host of other life demands)– all of this as a way of ignoring what needs to be tended to inside of me. This is me running away and sabotaging my chance to thrive in God, so that Christ can be birthed even more in me. I am afraid of what is inside, my own ugliness and well as my unhealed wounds. And I am surprised at this growing sense that I am angry. Very angry. Why? And what do I do about that?

There is no way to remove the mold from those pumpkin seeds and save the life that is inside of them. They are done. But God is inviting me to let Him do the impossible– remove the mold from the seeds of my soul and bring me abundant life… and joy. Joy is something that feels somewhat foreign to me. Maybe it comes from growing up a pastor’s kid or a nerd. Who knows. But I am, for better or worse, a fairly serious person. Well, let me say I can laugh and joke and be goofy sometimes, but in general, I take life and people seriously. Life is work to me. I am well aware that it can be hard and painful. Spirituality, too, is often hard and painful. But Francis and Clare speak of joy so often, and I shake my head. Really? Joy in poverty? Joy in confession and repentance? Joy in learning to walk as Jesus did? Joy in suffering? What is this joy? I think I would like some of that.

“This is the meaning of conversion: learning God over and over and over again, a different lesson each time. Meanwhile God acts as if we knew him well.We are basically afraid of this God who strangely likes us. The gentlenes and understanding of God disconcert us and reveal how much our ideas are based on projections from within. We see God as judgemental because we are. We see God as demanding and totalitarian because we are. As distant and cold because we are. And here is the paradox– who we truly are is what God sees us to be. Unless we live in God’s Presence and learn Him over again, we will remain in exile from ourselves. Our true self is hidden in Christ, he who is most fully human. We are kept in exile by our compulsions and attachments which drive us. They are like an addiction. They retain power over us because we are used to them. Our greatest sickness is that we prefer what we know and what we are used to over risking the unknown. The truth, however, will set us free so that healing can begin.” from chapter 6 of “Living the Incarnation” (excerpts from pp. 76-79)

I have to tell you that these few pages, and especially the words quoted above, were like a revelation to me. I know it’s very meaty, so read it again slowly. It is amazing. I read this and realized that I am sad and angry because I am in exile from myself and from God… a self-imposed exile. To be whole again, I need to learn God again. I need to trust who He is, trust His love for me again, and trust who He sees me to be… if that makes sense. It is not that I did not know God before or know any Truth before. But it is time to take another step in the journey and learn more of Him… and learn more of me as well, to be more fully who God created me to be… more fully human. It’s an interesting idea to consider. It feels risky. Am I ready to allow God to remove the mold?