Listening to the Trappist. Father Thomas Keating, I learned something a bit startling, eye-opening in a certain sense. In the Gospels, Jesus is asked a hundred and eighty-three questions. He directly answers only three. He ask three hundred and seven questions. He leaves no writing. Within his salvific love and compassion, Jesus is a teacher who provides darkness rather than clarity, willing to lead us by the hand into the mysteries of His Father. He leaves us with the symbol of the crucifix, a resurrection, ascension, and the Eucharist. The law was established before His incarnation, he fulfills through grace. Divine Mercy His loving intent, Jesus inquires more than He declares. Faith, hope, and charity are the answers he seeks. The answer He provides is all embracing, beyond literal interpretations, beyond reasoning and linear thought. I trust in You, Jesus.
I am being elevated, prepared for a spiritual undertaking, passivity the proper disposition for reception. God desires not intelligent answers. The last thing God needs is another scholar, or another writer, or another artist, or another Church authority, or another self-serving individual, or another wanna-be. Delusion abounds: there are too many books, too many songs, too many movies, too many words of advice, too many words of attempted wisdom. The world is inundated with excess, too many people answering questions; questions that were never asked by Christ in his abundance of questioning. God seeks those willing to hear His call for a personal crucifixion, to live in obedience to His will beyond concepts defining reality, to live contemplating questions, while not conceiving and spouting answers. Abandonment to faith, hope, and love, He commands, a life within the law surrendering to grace. The spiritual life is not a game, nor a test, nor the accumulation of knowledge. Father Thomas Keating has another interesting idea: the spiritual life is a life upside down, those advancing only able to do so through failure and wounds; through experienced spiritual healing. It is not personal advancement, rather the turning of one’s self upside down. Jesus turned the chosen people’s religious life upside down. He did not come to abolish the law, yet he did overturn tables and concepts, going beyond and on into eternity. God does the choosing, reading the heart as He did with Joseph, Old Testament and New Testament Joseph. Even failing last week, and I did horribly—throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum—challenging God within interior rebellion and argument, an unending whining and complaining, threatening to run off to North Dakota, cajoling and manipulating–God still sees fits to grace me, to set me forth upon a mission to bring him souls. The conviction he is doing something special within my life emerges stout. The morning meeting with my Hospice organizer, basically my boss, moments were perceived larger than life, the tangible presence of purpose. I know we are going to do great things together. I am incredibly comfortable in her company, obliging her with obedience. I will treat her requests as the requests of God. We talk very little of religion; spiritually nothing to critical detail. The depth of my confidence flowers within my acquiescence to direction, allowing God to use me through the guidance of an elite organization. It is just so incredibly perfect, mind-blowing in happening and circumstance. I am left speechless and spellbound; focused, cued-in, and concentrated up bringing my life into fruition. I am so excited, and the elation arises humbly through the recognition of the power and ways of God, the uplifting understanding He calls me. I am decreasing as He increases. He honors me with the grace to answer the call to service. Without Him, I am nothing. That was clearly demonstrated last week, a necessary refining.
Today after mass, coinciding with my disillusionment with the insanity I was perceiving within Cleveland, I spoke with a friend, a good man—interesting, charming, and entertaining with a shared love of basketball—I could not stop speaking, while knowing I did not want to speak. It is not my way. I associate the exchange to A.A. participation, understanding there is nothing there for me. ‘NO!!!’ must be the answer to such flabbergasted interaction. It antagonizes the contemplative approach concentrating upon faith, hope, and charity. In order to bring souls to God, to dedicate my life to service, thus a greater contemplative life, it must be through love, mature love dominating my interactions with others. Again I am left with the feeling I encountered a person unable to apply a mature Godly love to their life, another single person, failed marriages, no children, no familial life, confusing relationships, a vast social world of people constantly answering questions while never living lives of mature love, never living lives of deepened and expanded faith and hope–spiritual children seeking identity. Going out in four directions, deepening and expanding, I must concentrate upon faith, hope, and charity. Over and over, contemplating the concepts, asking questions, foregoing answers. What is faith? What is hope? What is love? Beyond the confirmation of a specific path is the fact I do not want to define my spirituality by the lacking existing within others. It is not enough to possess penetrating insight into others. In fact, it is disheartening. I am sick of it. I need more. I must pass beyond, allowing God to manifest. My theological virtues become beacons. Everything is strengthened and nourished through mass and the Eucharist, the Poor Clares and Franciscan priests becoming cohorts. There is one more I am convinced, unreservedly positive, belongs on my team, yet that is none of my business, the proper longing enough, satisfying God. There is no need to accumulate further knowledge nor awareness. I do not need more information, nor do I accomplish anything by impressing others. The time for authentic action has arrived. The idea of things being none of my business, relates perfectly to my feeling toward the conversation held after mass—the discussing of eastern and western churches, watching Russia, the state of the world, homosexual marriage and politics, questioning the church, in truth spiritually-disturbing arbitrary small talk lacking Godly mature love, yet also far from wicked or mean spirited, just slightly off—none of my business—reflecting back upon the Trappist monk from Gethsemane, and the message given to the monk by a dying monk. The monk approaching his maker, reposed within his final words, presented the idea that the closer he drew to God through death, the more he understood that very few things were truly any of his business. Very few things are truly any of our business within this grand experience of life. The majority of things that consume and occupy a mind mean nothing when framed by death and eternity; the reality of possibilities narrowed to the acceptance of embracing the cross, allowing trivial matters to fall away. Detachment is my business. Jesus’ message is to be lived rather than prescribed as an answer to questions.