Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oh how we hate to consider true powerlessness! Not when we live like doormats for
bullies or forsake our essence in false humility. That isn't the foolishness of the Gospel wherein we own and accept our powerlessness as the path to serenity. Being a fool for Christ allows God's strength to fill and work through us. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will, therefore, boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (II Corinthians 12:9) This is the path of wisdom while the other is pure stupidity. 

St. Paul was unambiguous in his advice to the early community in Corinth:

We are fools for the sake of Christ… When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day… God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no onemight boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption... (I Corinthians 4:10/12-13 and 1:25-30)

couldn't help but think of this today as a small group gathered to pray for one of our faith community's salty saints who passed from life to life everlasting this past summer.Today friends and family met to celebrate the unique and sacred love made flesh in and through her being by God's grace. It was a tender time - especially for those who knew her as a dynamic athlete and community advocate/volunteer - tender and humbling. Funerals or memorial services are humbling for all of us. They are also frightening for some, however, for these ceremonies confront us with the inevitable weakness we all encounter when our race is run. Perhaps it is our discomfort and fear that encourages me try to speak two Gospel truths in every such liturgy: 1) that God's peace is available to us now and not just when we leave this realm; and 2) the only entrance fee required into this peace that passes understanding is a broken and humble heart. 

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit.

You can't fake humility and the soul smells a phony broken heart a million miles away and won't have any of it. This is the necessary suffering required for wisdom according to Jung, the brilliant sadness Richard Rohr reminds us that is available to all if we embrace our brokenness. Now who knows why this is so, but every spiritual tradition teaches that the way up demands our going down: our desire for ascent always requires a crashing descent. In this all people and religions are the same.  A blog posting at A-MUSED paraphrases Ken Wilber like this:,.  

In our later stages of life we realize that the classic spiritual journey always begins elitist and ends egalitarian. Always! We see it in Judaism, starting with the Jews’ early elite chosenness and ending in prophets without borders, in the heady new sect of Christianity that soon calls itself “catholic” or universal. We see it in Sufi Islam and Hindu Krishna consciousness, which sees God’s joy everywhere. We see it in mystics like William Blake or Lady Julian, who start with a grain of sand or a hazelnut and soon find themselves swimming in infinity. We see it in the Native American sweat lodge, where the participant ends by touching his sweaty body to the earth and saying: all my relations! (http://www.philipchircop.com/post/5972247752/from-elitist-to-egalitarian-ken-wilber-described)

The late David Foster Wallace put it like this:

If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. 

And still, despite the blessings and the peace, we HATE to own and accept our powerlessness.

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