Do we actually need God? This is a provocative question that gets to the heart of our salvation, yet false ideas abound: Do it yourself, Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, You can do anything you put your mind to, etc. What a sad vision for life! Where’s the mystery? The risk of encountering the other? The hope of some new reality? The trust in a power beyond ourselves? The connection that satisfies our longing to be whole? I am reminded of the story of a monk who goes to his abbot to learn about the spiritual life. The abbot leads him out to the monastery lake, and, as they are talking, gradually pushes the monk’s head down into the water until he is totally submerged. The monk, who had been thinking it was some ritual, begins to panic and just when he thinks he is going to drown, the abbot relents. The monk bursts out of the water, gasping for breath and screaming obscenities. The abbot calmly responds, “I’m sorry, but I want you to understand that you will never know God, until you need God like that next breath.” Let’s stop playing God with our clever calculations and power moves, but instead learn the meaning of these words, “Your heavenly Father already knows the things you need, so do not worry about tomorrow” (Mt 6:32,34). Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
TRUST GOD. What if this whole project of being human was really about trusting God? What if the feelings, emotions, desires and inevitable confusion in this drama were simply the circumstances for that singular act of trust that makes us whole again? What if we do in fact have a loving parent who art in heaven who is quietly, patiently and constantly creating opportunities for us to trust? What if our births were nothing other than a crash-course in that proverbial leap of faith into reality? What if our deaths were the final movement of this masterpiece where we are afforded the dignity of handing ourselves over in trust? What if everything in-between – infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood and our elder years – were the process of working out the knots that prevent us from trusting fully? What if our neuroses, obsessions, complexes and addictions were just misguided efforts to trust? What if God were not some kind of task-master or spiritual police officer but an intimate and humble friend who has been trying to build trust with us all along? What if we got in the habit of closing our eyes, pausing for a moment, taking a deep breath, and paying attention to what was happening within us…and feeling what God was actually like? Would this help us to TRUST GOD? Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
The beautiful complementarity of East and West is a stunning reminder that the cosmos has an essentially paschal character. While the West values order, structure, logic and accuracy, the East is characterized by intuition, feeling, openness and adaptability. Together, they image the glorious dying and rising pattern that has given existence meaning since the beginning of time: the urgent Western need to understand the exact nature of things in the face of diminishing sunlight paired with the deep Eastern hopefulness that the darkness will in fact give way to a new reality. It is no wonder, then, that when Christians were initiated into the early Church they faced West as they denounced a life limited to this world then literally turned East to signify the inner “East-er” they desired in their hearts. Let’s therefore not play the game of pitting East and West against each other, but instead realize the whole symbolism. Let’s awaken to the dimensions of East and West unfolding in our very souls. Let’s look to Christ who lived precisely in the middle of East and West in an eternal “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19). May we indeed become integrated persons grounded in the concreteness of a love that lasts. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
A border is an invisible line that is meant to distinguish one country from another. We all know that these lines are quite arbitrary and usually drawn based on ethnicity, natural terrain or political dominance. While grown men and women bicker, and in fact kill one another, over these borders, Jesus reminds us that there is no abiding kingdom in this world (cf. Jn 18:36) and that all conflicts are a projection of something unresolved within us (cf. Lk 17:21). What if our true ethnic identity were as children of God? What if the only terrain that mattered was the spiritual landscape of souls? What if that unquenchable thirst for power was just a misdirected desire for everlasting life? Indeed, the Cross is the ultimate boundary-marker: God has reached out to the absolute limits of existence, has established the definitive distinction between this life and the next, and to this day invites people to cross over into a place of trust and love. Let’s therefore be relentless in finding that deep interior borderline in ourselves. Let’s challenge one another to make the turn from defending the false self to a life of vulnerability and openness to others. Let’s link arms with each of our sisters and brothers on the way to our radically inclusive homeland. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.