Wednesday, June 04, 2008

sinking sand

Our celebrant Sunday had some interesting things to say about the lessons, and in particular about the sticky business of discerning God's will. "Not everyone who says "Lord, Lord... will enter the Kingdom..." —Matthew 7:21 He believed this passage was a warning to those of us who are really sure we are doing God's will. Because, as the song proclaims: it ain't necessarily so. He went on to quote Lao Tsu on the subject of emptiness... "that it is only the emptiness inside that makes a vessel useful, that's it's easier to carry an empty cup than one that is filled to the brim."

As he spoke, I immediately thought of one of our sisters who seems hell-bent on a path she truly believes God has chosen her for. Not all of us in the community agree that she has heard this call straight from God, some of us may even believe she has an unhealthy obsession about it. But we are not she. As our celebrant so eloquently said: Each of us is a unique and unrepeatable turn of God's creative love. We are not spiritual clones, and each sister must follow her heart and be true to her own understanding of God's will. The rest of us can only pray that if it turns out not to be (God's will or call) that she will not be left disillusioned and in pain. It has already been painful enough for us to allow her to follow this dream.

But it's so much easier to see what we perceive as the speck in someone else's eye, isn't it? I caught myself in the middle of my musings about her, and asked: What if this is about me? What things am I pursuing that I'm too cock-sure are from God, and not my own personal agenda?

Ouch. Too many answers to that one. My cartoons, for one thing. Even though I haven't drawn anything for ages doesn't mean they aren't on my list to start up again once we have a little more help around the place. I love thinking up humorous conversations between the three entities of the Trinity, drawing God with the shape and mind of an inquisitive child. But are these ideas from God? When I get on a creative roll with my cartoons, do I empty myself of all need for recognition, for applause at my witty little turns of phrase? No, I do not. I cannot wait to show them off. So what about that?

I've also been asked to serve as a spiritual advisor for the governing group for Cursillo in this diocese. Is that what God wants? Or is it a way for me to get out of the house once a month, or a way to make our community more visible to the larger church? And... is that a bad thing?

The next warning from Scripture was the familiar one about building your house on rock rather than sand. Our celebrant had a new twist to this passage. He had just recently buried a good friend and was freshly aware that everything we have from God is on loan. While we have the abundance of family, friendships and any material possessions, we must celebrate them and be thankful... but we cannot hang on to them. He likened the hanging on to a perceived identity to building a house on sinking sand. Of course.

Relaxing our hold on any and all things in life is a form of detachment often confused with not caring. Of course we care. But care and reliance are not the same thing. Reliance on God is the rock we must build on... and for that we must empty ourselves of everything else.

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