God’s generosity is boundless and, in turn, prompts in us a generosity that is boundless as well. This is a generosity that does not count the cost. This is the generosity that anoints the feet of Jesus.
How different it is to the gift that serves to our own advantage. And be assured, we can and will know God’s generosity if we give ourselves to others without expectations or requirements.
Eldridge Pendleton (1940-2015)
Who is your enemy? Who is difficult for you?
Try praying for them.
Go to God on their behalf remembering them as fellow humans, as people. Pray as a child of God for these other children of God. Trust the teacher and practice praying, for through this we learn to love everyone.
-Br. Luke Ditewig
Sometimes I want to blow the lid off this blog; and be so real it will make even the closest of friends scratch their heads. I desire authenticity; about my life, about where I am spiritually yet I fear judgment – mostly from within, but somewhat from others.
I want to tell you that my faith in God has been an intimate part of my life for 30 years and yet sometimes I feel it slipping away into a pithy form of agnosticism. The faith I profess is 2,000 years old. The Creeds I quote are less than 1,700 years old. The rituals from the Mass some of them are less than 600 years old. All things have changed in those time era’s but not religion, not much at last. In the last few years alone I have changed drastically. I change…my mind, my heart, my jobs, my friends, and yes, some of my beliefs. But God I know is timeless.
I am wanton to share that most Christians offend me, somewhere along the way the American version of Christianity became a marriage of conservative politics and social causes ensconced in fundamentalist tenets. That is not my faith; nor the faith and life of Jesus. But I am also left empty by liberal politics that have all but abandoned their religious inspirations for protecting both the poor and the vulnerable. In truth, care of the poor, the abandoned, marginalized and the broken are the responsibility of those who claim to follow Jesus (there are over 400 verses citing God’s concern and mandate to care for the poor and oppressed in the entire Bible). But it seems Christians these days are known more for their hate than their love. I fear Jesus would not recognize his followers” if he were reading the papers and visiting the churches.
I am saddened and sickened by most of what constitutes Christianity these days, if I am to be honest. It seems my faith is fed more by what is outside of it bounds than what is within it.
I am not alone in my disillusionment. One of the NY Times’ bestsellers was a book by Frank Schaeffer (the son of one of the “fathers” of the rise of Conservative Christian political viewpoint), entitled Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God. Then there is the rise of the religiously disillusioned, the “Nones” who according to the Pew Research Centers: “[are a group of] people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics” as well as those who have left the church of their youth while still holding to a deep faith in God, just not in organized religion.
Some days I feel like a “None” – I believe in and love God, deeply, but I find most organized religious expression to be pedantic at best, ruled and run by angry zealots who are milquetoast concerned more with doctrine and dogma than compassion, justice and mercy (the weightier matters of the Law according to Jesus, see Matthew 23:23).
I am rambling. But I am seeking clarity and honesty. I love Jesus. I mean I am really into Jesus and the words we have for him on record (I’m a Red Letter Believer you could say). You would not know it by stepping into most churches these days but Jesus spoke more about helping the poor, money, loving your enemies and forgiveness than about heaven or hell. And not once did Jesus ever condemn my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Jesus never said “love the sinner but hate the sin” – a diatribe I have a hard time with because I am not so skilled at separating the “sin” from the “so-called sinner.”
The long and the short of it is I am seeing the cracks in the margins.
My faith is old, and dry. My prayers are empty and “feel” worthless. The God I professed years ago is no longer the God I turn to in times of trouble or joy.
The man I see in the mirror, although I know to be a child of God and made in God’s image, is cracked, faltering, burdened with a sense of hopelessness.
Maybe what I am going into and through is a deeper, more authentic way of living; a birthing into the death of childish faith into the reality of the Real. Or maybe, I am simply spiritually lazy and perpetually defiant, needing to reject something in order to feel powerful about anything.
I still believe…but I don’t. I have faith, except when I don’t. I am one with a God I know longer believe in. I am in the light even more so when I am in this darkness.
I find comfort in the words of the German mystic Meister Eckhart who said it best when he said this: “If I had a God I could understand, I would no longer consider him God.”
“I have had to accept the fact that my life is almost totally paradoxical. I have also had to learn gradually to get along without apologizing for the fact, even to myself. . . . It is in the paradox itself, the paradox which was and still is a source of insecurity, that I have come to find the greatest security. I have become convinced that the very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God’s mercy to me: if only because someone so complicated and so prone to confusion and self-defeat could hardly survive for long without special mercy.”
After all these years, I am still afraid of the dark. Oh, I talk a good game, stating proudly that I love the dark that I am okay with it, with not knowing, with the unknown. But that’s a load of crap.
I hate the dark; specifically, I loathe the reality of “not knowing.” I find no comfort in that sacred place.
I have found that the words of Dorothy Day ring true, reminding us that it is best to travel light through the darkness. I say it is good to do so because I need my hands in the darkness, groping for security, feeling my way through it the way a newly blind person fumbles through Braille.
The darkness of my heart – the anger, the fear, the lack of trust in God, in Love itself – makes my life ‘feel’ messy.
When my life feels messy, there is this thought that rattles around my head with jarring significance: sometimes I feel that God is this pervasive Reality I have yet to actually experience, much less “know.”
But then that noise subsides, and above the din I hear the repetitive whisper, “mercy, mercy, mercy, all is enveloped in Mercy…”
One thing is certain, the messier my life gets the more merciful God seems. I sense the reason that is due to this truth: the messier and more mistake prone I get, the more I am in dire need of the Mercy that is available always and forever. The more I am ‘human’ the more I need and therefore am open to Divine Love. When I am at my lowest, it is ‘easier’ to look up and ask for mercy.
It’s easier to surrender when I run out of bullets.
It’s a shame that it takes my increased messiness and mistakes to be the catalyst provoking my need of God’s divine mercy, but I am human. I am trying daily to put myself in a position living conscious of and present to God’s infinite mercy rather than waiting for fox holes and disasters.
Spiritual crisis prevention is far better than crisis management. In prevention mode, I am more aware of God in all my dealings rather than my usual state of forgetfulness. And as I grow in a deeper daily awareness of God, the self made messiness seems to give way to a mercy filled life; still messy, but steeped in the ever-present reality called the mercy of God.
“Out of Character”
God bless our contradictions,
those parts of us which seem out of character.
Let us be boldly and gladly out of character.
Let us be creatures of paradox and variety:
creatures of contrast; of light and shade:
creatures of faith.
God, be our constant.
Let us step out of character into
the unknown, to struggle and love
and do what we will.
Michael Leunig, The Prayer Tree