Sunday, April 5, 2015
A collective betrayal
When I expand the question, I am the Jewish authorities, accusing; I am Pontius Pilate, washing my hands; I am the crowd, condemning; I am the apostles, drawing swords, threatening violence, denying.
I betray decency; I betray peace.
The things I betray, which I will later (when I admit how i am to myself) profess to ignorance about, aren't actually so complicated to see. If I were honest — remember, I can only lie, as I always do, if I know what the truth is and then fail to admit it — I might easily enough see how I betray in each instance, all day long. It's sadly transparent, really; at a glance, almost.
I see these betrayals as individual things; but they are collective.
Indeed, when I see myself, not just in the way that a higher energy makes possible — and this, of course, is the most vital way of seeing — but in a very ordinary way, if there is any conscious intelligence behind me (by this, I mean the participation of more than just the intellect, or an emotional reaction) I see how I am betraying. I ought to stay quite close to myself; and yet I am distracted by every instance that arises. That distraction consists of an outwardness and an insistence in investing in the outer situations, the outer circumstances, instead of being present to the need to turn my inner face perpetually back towards God.
In these situations and circumstances, I'm forever negotiating something for myself. I want to be safe; I want to strike a bargain with the devils that beset me so that I can feel good, have something material, be protected. To stop lying and to get out in front of all of this would be a tremendous risk; in my foolishness, I think I could lose something through honesty. Maybe even my life. And that's true; but I lose my real life with every step I take when I betray. This collective betrayal within me is the death of a thousand cuts, and I don't see it.
In seeing Christ's example, I see how he sets the standard for forgiveness—one hundred percent forgiveness— in the midst of this collective betrayal.
A higher inner principle must enter to forgive; and it can never come from the same level on which I act, because anything that is manufactured on this level — and yes, it is always manufactured, not a living, organic thing — is as false as the rest of the things within me on this level. Yes, the truth is in there somewhere, like fine particles of gold in the midst of sand in a stream bed — but it needs to be sifted out, purified, because there is so much dross in the way I live, in the way I experience.
In this, as in all things, Christ is my master. There is in the end nowhere else to turn if I wish to discover Being; and although the path of the cross is a long one, although I start out so far away that Christ's example and his Presence actually exist in a distant land, far from anything I know, I have to tread that path throughout an entire lifetime.
Perhaps never seeing Him at all, or even never truly feeling his Presence: yet in a steadfast faith that there is a Way, and that I can find it.
I wish that these truths would take root deeper in me, so that I never forget them.