I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down. Simone Weil says simply, “Let us love the country of here below. It is real; it offers resistance to love.”
-Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Our meditation teaches us how fully every part of us has to be involved in the radical conversion of our life. It teaches us that we have to put our whole heart into this work of the Spirit if we are genuinely to respond to the call to leave the shallows and enter into the deep, direct knowledge that marks a life lived in the mystery of God. Then everything in our life acquires this depth dimension of divine Presence. We are foolish to look for “signs” on the way – it is a form of spiritual materialism that Jesus rebuked – because if we are on the way, which means in the Mystery, in the bright cloud of God’s presence, then all things are signs. Everything mediates the love of God….
The “heart” is that focal point in our being where we can simply be in the Mystery without trying to explain or dissect it. A mystery analyzed becomes merely another problem. It must be apprehended whole and entire. And that is why we, who are called to apprehend it, must ourselves be one in mind and heart.
- John Main, Selected Writings
To bear the times pressing upon us, our children need a larger hope. They need a larger, more gracious vision than a veiled set of instructions for skirting the vortex of death by shoving others in. To keep their hearts open in the rising tide, their imaginations need a bigger boat. Rational self-interest isn’t going to get them across the troubled waters ahead. The odds against them are stacked too high. The hope they need is not rational. To have real, embodied hope, to resist the unmaking of the earth and its goodness, will require of them not acts of reason, but of acts of faith.
We have no right to ask our kids to make the hard sacrifices necessary for a viable future when we have been so busily sacrificing that future for our present. We cannot make them proposals of calculated benefit, suggesting that they fight for social justice and environmental protections because otherwise the economy will fail and leave them bereft. This makes no sense to them, because they can see that the economy is already failing and will likely leave them bereft regardless. There remains no reasonable cause for the self-sacrifice and courage that a livable future asks of them. Their choices are apocalyptic: to fight unto the end, or to love unto the end.
[Apologies to Canadians that the link is for Amazon US but Friesen Press doesn’t seem to have their relationship to Amazon Canada streamlined. Canadians might be better off trying Commonword.]
[I’ve been fascinated lately by reading Ivan Illich and finding a creative analysis of modern culture that critiques those who wield power on the right and the left]:
I believe that the Incarnation makes possible a surprising and entirely new flowering of love and knowledge. For Christians the Biblical God can now be loved in the flesh. Saint John says that he has sat at table with him, that he has put his head on his shoulder, heard him, touched him, smelled him. And he has said that whoever sees him sees the Father, and that whoever loves another loves him in the person of that other….
The opening of this new horizon is also accompanied by a second danger: institutionalization. There is a temptation to try to manage and, eventually, to legislate this new love, to create an institution that will guarantee it, insure it, and protect it by criminalizing its opposite. So along with this new ability to give freely of oneself has appeared the possibility of exercising an entirely new kind of power, the power of those who organize Christianity and use this vocation to claim their superiority as social institutions.
- Ivan Illich, The Rivers North of the Future: The Testament of Ivan Illich as told to David Cayley (2005)
[a quote from the ending of the new book written by David Moore, pastor in Santa Barbara and adjunct faculty at SSU]:
Away with graceless Christianity, so full of suspicion and devoid of mercy! Out with the old and in with the new hope of Jesus. Even with its persistent sorrows, ubiquitous disappointments and lingering aches of the soul, life is hopeful. This will be realized increasingly in the days to come as more of us discover how not alone we are. Faith is generous. Hope is strong. Love is limitless. There’s no need to be selfish and stingy because the supply only increases, and access to it, as we share.