Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Immediate Grace

I suppose one could argue that I am on a religious kick in terms of my blog posts these days; I will just plead guilty as charged. After all, I am in a work whose magnum opus, Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, is nothing more or less than an epic where all the major characters seek to find a right relationship between man and God.

What is that right relationship? Where is it? When is it? What is its character?

Questions, beyond any doubt, which mankind has been asking itself for millennia. Aside from atheists–whose wilfull ignorance excuses them from the debate, God bless them–these are the most essential questions.

We're accustomed to rushing this way and that way seeking God. It's tempting, as it always has been, to run off to exotic foreign countries and meet with the apparently grooviest and deepest people one possibly can in order to find God. Gotta go to the coolest places: vortexes, pyramids, menhirs. Find this sage, or that guru–the ones who really "have it." Gotta work with them.

Does this sound familiar? Sure it does. The only difficulty here is that this is not inner work–this is fashion and politics. Every outward event that draws me away from the immediate experience of Grace is already off the mark.

To make a talisman out of anything, or anyone, is already an error. What is needed is right here.

The immediate experience of Grace is available at all times and in all places. It is never withdrawn; existence itself is a state of eternal, permanent, and immediate Grace. The fact that human beings have lost the ability to sense this does not change its truth. Immediate Grace is touching us at all times; it never loses contact with creation.

What does it mean to say that something is immediate? To be immediate is to be without mediation: from the root -im (not, as in immoderate, immobile) and mediatus, that is, intervening, mediated or moderated.

This means that to be immediate is to be without any brokerage: the immediate experience of Grace is unmediated. I speak here of that Grace which exists without any agent to deliver it. It is already present. There is no need to have another person intervene so that we can experience grace; there is nothing between us and God except Grace itself, which is of God, and in fact an embodiment of God's Will.

It might sound facetious to say so, but there is nothing between me and God except God. No translator is necessary, no special and secret technique is needed. A belief in any kind of mediation is already a betrayal of faith, a lack of trust, a sign of deficiency.

There is no more Grace, for example, at Chartres, or embodied in the Pope or the Dalai Lama, or on a mat at the next fabulous retreat week at a Zen monastery, than there is around me right now as I dictate this–or around you as you read it. There is more attractive power, perhaps, working together in groups–that's usually true. There is no denying the value of this.

Nonetheless, my aim needs to be to personally awaken to the Grace that is already present, through the opening of my own heart. To look around, to breathe, to sense, to see–to remain immediately available through the senses to the mystery of what is around me.

That includes the mysteries of strangers at the supermarket checkout, as well as white tailed deer peering at me from behind the bushes in the early morning sun. If I selectively believe in only that which appears to the eyes or sounds to the ears to be sacred, I have misunderstood the sacred.

Seek not things; seek an inner movement. Seek an action. To participate is sacred. To receive is sacred. To honor is sacred. Each action has the potential to be worship; each action has the potential to offer thanks.

Grace is the substantial arrival of thanks from the Lord Himself for our efforts of presence on His behalf. This is manna from heaven that can sustain.

May our prayers be heard.

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