By accepting the truth about myself and my actions, I am moving towards a more honest and whole life. Though painful, it is important that I see the impact of my own choices (for example, I must understand that the clothes I just bought at the store are made by workers in developing countries who are often underpaid and working in unsafe factory environments). Once I understand this impact, I can let it hurt me and let it change me. I can let it illuminate my darkness, broaden my understanding, and deepen my love. For honesty’s sake, I need to see my own desire for material gain, and how I sometimes place it above the well-being of the world’s most vulnerable. This is the tension that, should I choose to bear it, will transform me.
[in one of those lovely and timely moments, I read this yesterday- after reading the news and the misuse of Romans 13…]
The Bible has been used as a tool of colonialism, xenophobia, exclusion, and cultural genocide. It still is. But this does not have to be. For centuries, communities of radical compassion and courage have read and re-read the sacred page in creative and critical fashion, so that these old memories shake the powers from their thrones and bring actual change to those who have been kept down…. The Bible must be lived (and enjoyed) in streams of justice, or it is a dead word.
[A reminder of the spiritual potential in poetry and stories – and a recommendation for anyone looking for a prayer guide as we begin the season of Ordinary Time]:
Indeed, many of us might include a poet or an author, whether dead or living, among our spiritual mentors. On a quiet evening, curled up with a good story, we have encountered the memorable character, the articulate phrase, the evocative image, the small suggestion, the smuggled truth, the shattering epiphany, which changed us, and we weren’t even looking to be
changed. It enriched our lives, and we didn’t even know our own poverty. We were not the same people afterward.
Sarah Arthur, At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time
A saint is capable of loving created things and enjoying the use of them and dealing with them in a perfectly simple, natural manner, making no formal references to God, drawing no attention to his own piety, and acting without any artificial rigidity at all. His gentleness and his sweetness are not pressed through his pores by the crushing restraint of a spiritual strait-jacket. They come from his direct docility to the light of truth and to the will of God. Hence a saint is capable of talking about the world without any explicit reference to God, in such a way that his statement gives greater glory to God than the observations of someone less holy, who has to strain himself to make an arbitrary connection between creatures and God through the medium of hackneyed analogies and metaphors that are so feeble that they make you think there is something the matter with religion. – Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
To say that a work of imagination is subject to correction is, of course, to imply that there is no “world of imagination” as distinct from or opposed to the “real world.” The imagination is in the world, is at work in it, is necessary to it, and is correctable by it. This correcting of imagination by experience is inescapable, necessary, and endless, as is the correcting of experience by imagination…. One of the most profound of human needs is for the truth of imagination to prove itself in every life and place in the world, and for the truth of the world’s lives and places to be proved in imagination.
– Wendell Berry, The Loss of the University