Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Going deeper into the Good Truth of life


I'm increasingly struck by how outwardly we live; and how absolutely determined we all are to measure ourselves by what we achieve in the world. All of us are like this, I think; we're excited by outward achievements, set benchmarks by them, believe in everything that happens as though it were important. 

The transitory nature of life and achievements are forgotten in the rush to seize them.

This morning, I recall the simple things I did the day before; helping a friend clean out his garage, cleaning wax off bee frames. My friend thanked me for helping him clean the garage; I thanked him for the privilege and opportunity of working together. These days, it's the relationship, the activity, and the effort that always seem to have the ultimate value. Setting things into order has always been satisfying for me.Yet the setting into order of outward things is always just a mirror for me to try and create a parallel inward order inside this confusing person I call myself.

 Myself lives in a confusing world, where people do bad things. The weight of this war—the murder, the refugees—bears down on my soul, bears down hard like a great stone that must be carried. There is an anguish in the air that goes beyond any subjective feelings I can muster. Indeed, all of my subjective feelings seem artificial when faced with the truth of this difficulty, this tragic world moment. 

Yet that, as well, is outward — and it is the inward suffering and anguish that seems to carry all of the meaning in this moment. Something is taking place cosmologically on a scale that I don't understand, and all of the unrest and horror manifesting here is a reflection of that. The actions are material, but the disturbance is spiritual.

Yet there is a Good Truth in life; and it penetrates me through both the subjectively good and the subjectively bad events that take place. That Good Truth constructs itself of many tiny events that I don't pay enough attention to; and it makes itself whole through the Presence of God in all actions. 

This, as well, is confusing to me, because I find the Presence of God everywhere, both inside me and outside, and don't really understand it at all. I have to accept all this Grace through a kind of foggy stupidity; I wish I understood much better, but I don’t. The only things I know how to do are to keep returning to prayer for help, and to keep returning intentionally to the sense of sorrow that comes so often in a day.

 This Good Truth is freely given. I think that if all of us could sense it, we would give up the evil that we do and turn toward the good much more often. Yet the apparatus that ought to make it possible for me to know this Good Truth doesn't work properly anymore. Even when I try to turn towards the good, I think I always try through my outward parts, never reaching deep enough into the spirit and the soul. My own fear keeps me away from that; to go deeper into that Good Truth would require me to give something up. I think that whatever it is I would have to give up is too much; and yet when it is ever so gently taken away from me through Grace, I see how useless it was, and how foolish I was to resist.

I don't really know how else to say this. This Good Truth is present in me in the small details of garage cleaning and beeswax; it is present in a single leaf or in the sound of a plate on the counter in the kitchen downstairs. 

All of these things are sacred; and all of them make me wish I knew better how to serve. This question of service comes down to such small things and is constrained within such a small circle of awareness; it doesn't have anything to do with the big outward things I think I can grapple with.

This morning, I hope to keep my finger on the pulse of this Good Truth in life, and try to go deeper into it.





Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.


Hosanna.

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