On Pleasing Sundays and Community Life
A journal repost. Written January 23, 2005.
I've been thinking a lot about the readings for today. Resonating with them quietly this morning. I usually begin my day with Him now. Even before I brush my teeth. And I realized that making Him that present at the start of your day makes you remember better how He is with you all throughout.
It's noon and it's hot. I ate a quick lunch because I'm so full from a heavy breakfast. I'm sitting quietly on my desk and looking at the bright green leaves of the mango tree outside my window. Their rustling makes them glitter underneath the Sunday sun.
Still lingering on the high from last night's worship. It was powerful. It was amazing. It was overwhelming. I've never worshipped on stage before a theatre-full of people before but it was amazing. The lights blinded me and through the silhouettes of the congregation I basked in the awe of God's presence. Last night we were one community. Last night we were one Church. The whispering voices that caused me last week's anxiety disappeared in a roomful of praise. I no longer segregated them as the ones who knew what I've done and the ones who didn't. I was before them and served them in all humility. Ushering the presence of Our God.
So the reading goes today.
"That there be no division among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose..." - 1Cor 1:10
It's not often I have witnessed our community work together this way. But it was a beautiful sight to see. People, strangers, close friends. A variant mix. But all serving for one purpose. To glorify God.
Sometimes, I think we forget that we are all struggling in our path towards living God's purpose. And because of our own struggles, we begin to loom in the dark and taint our judgments about people and situations because of the difficulties we experience. We always "come from somewhere". And it is exactly because our lives come from different places that lines begin to get drawn between individual perimeters of interaction.
I came from "somewhere" and this has prevented me to see the way God has been working lately. Things that happened suddenly cause me anxiety. Shaking my steadfastness of faith. Being condemned and believing that you deserve such condemnation is the worst prison one can ever be in. So I seeked refuge. From those who didn't condemn me. And I was warmly accepted. Therein, I found God's comfort. God's forgiveness. But after last night, I realized, that I too condemned those who condemned me by carrying the thorn of anxiety against them and by letting it remain. And a burning question came about, how can I desperately seek God's forgiveness and bask in it now that it's been given, when I myself cannot do the same?
Several answers. I'm not that strong yet. I can't give what I can't have. I'm still vulnerable. I'm being too ideal.
Ego-talk. I this...I that...I...I...I...
I'm halfway a lot of books right now. One of them is by Fulton Sheen called "Lift Up Your Heart". He has spoken about this ego and why it is so self-centered. The ego needs a lot of things. The ego always lacks something. And is in a restless search for meaning. So it latches on to something or someone that gives this meaning only to find that it isn't enough. Until the eog realizes that it will never find meaning unless it finds God...it can never detach from the cycle of self...and will remain in a world that is focused only on the I.
When we become too focused on ourselves, on our own survival, we draw the lines around ourselves. Around our peers. Around our groups. This is what defines me.
This is what I did. Only to realize that no one and nothing can define me except my very own Creator.
I can't be self-less and follow God unless I am willing to let go of myself and what I think to be true. I can't truly follow Him and say that I am following Him unless I make myself aware of my own darkness and how deeply its consuming me that I desperately need His light. I used to think that only crazy people love the abstractions of life. Artists. Dreamers. But with the way my life has gone and I guess for so many others, one can say that God is the craziest of all. I never know what He's up to. But as long as I remain with Him. Near Him. Near enough to hear and see and recognize...I will never be lost.
So against all inhibitions. Against all discomfort. I will forgive. I will reach out. The way God wants me to reach out. The way God wants me to forgive. The way God wants me to follow Him.
And if it means walking this path on earth alone, I will submit. For I have realized that no other path, can be safer and can have a certain destination no matter how uncertain the turns...than this.
Silence isolates us from the crowds that love to pool their misery; an unhappy civilization is always gregarious. Quiet tears one away from the misleading approval of the mob and from the rationalizing slogans of the crowds. Nothing is so good for the soul as a spiritual retreat where, in the requiem of prayers and contemplation, the soul makes itself receptive to knew insights and energies which come directly from God. - Fulton Sheen, "Lift Up Your Heart"