The Taunt To Abandon the Journey
I pray that all are allowing themselves to be immersed in God’s presence as Holy Week unfolds.
As we begin, let us center ourselves in Christ Jesus. Allow yourself to rest in the present moment to know God’s presence with you. It is good to be still as we pray for the Lord to speak to our hearts.
This week we continue our series of meditations as they flow out of a reading of The Book of Privy Counseling written by the anonymous 14th century Christian monk who also wrote The Cloud of Unknowing. In the light of Holy week my thoughts have come from a simultaneous immersion in the Scriptures on Passion Week, especially around the question, “How did Jesus continue to move forward, so steadfastly, knowing that he was heading to the cross?”
Meditation #3: “The Taunt to Abandon the Journey”
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
NRS Luke 9:51
Jesus from the moment he “set his face” (prosopon), which could be translated “set his presence” to go to Jerusalem was looking beyond the cross and the resurrection to the fulfillment (suplermo) of his mission at the ascension (analempsis). Jesus looked beyond process and set his presence on the prize at the end, which is us, and our salvation. This of course does not diminish the importance of the cross and the resurrection. In fact, it enhances them because in these we are shown the way, as we follow Jesus. Some might say, well that is Jesus, but I struggle with being steadfast, or even consistent, in my spiritual discipline’s. The writer of “The Book of Privy Counseling”, who is acting as our spiritual director in this series of meditations addresses this problem head on.
“No doubt, when you begin this practice1 your undisciplined faculties, finding no meat to feed upon, will angrily taunt you to abandon it. They will demand that you take up something more worthwhile, which means, of course something more suited to them.”
This it true because the habitual, normalized ways by which we navigate the world around us invariably flow from a sense, or need, to do something, something by our power, strength, and intellect. We feel as if we must take control by seizing our spiritual growth by the neck, which most often leaves us exhausted and ready to give up. However, in a most counterintuitive manner, the way to the prize we seek, which is the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, is not a way of doing to exhaustion and frustration. Instead, it is a way of being from which all acts of piety come forth and flow. This way of being is truly amazing in that it is an ever-burgeoning quiet awareness of our very being, which is the image of God, the image of Love, and a gentle letting go of our being, who we truly are, as a joyful gift to God. We rest in our re-born, Holy Spirit soaked human spirit, Christ-purified, with eyes to see and live as those set free; healed and expanding souls; renewed, intuitive minds, and a sense that our bodies have been retransformed into seeds of the imperishable body to come. In short, we become aware of the image of God in which we are created, of God’s presence with us, and our desire to let go of who we are as a gift to God. This is what Julian of Norwich referred to as Oneing with Christ Jesus. As this way of being unfolds, in us and around us, we find that our spiritual disciplines, which we were ready to give up, now become blessed Holy Habits that we treasure as a way of being, that is easy, because it is done faithfully and with full surrender, and effective because it can set our face, our presence, on the prize, which is resurrection in Christ Jesus. In this way our very existence becomes first fruits. In this way of being we find that all we do becomes brought together in a wonderful simplicity that is far more than the sum of its parts. Our spiritual disciplines, having become holy habits, now flow out of our being which we have gifted to God, for God’s glory alone. Once again, our 14th century spiritual director is quite helpful, with this beautiful prayer.
That which I and am and the way that I am,
With all my gifts of nature and grace,
You have given me, I Lord, and you are all this.
I offer it all to you, principally to praise you
And to help my fellow Christians and myself.
It is the work of the Spiritual Director to help others become aware that they are, and that all people are, created in the image of God, called to bear God’s likeness in the world, and to know God with us, moment by moment, that we may give our entire being to the Lord as a gift of praise, to God, for the benefit of God’s kingdom and God’s glory.
For this reason, it is highly recommended that we find a
good Spiritual Director to help us better hear God and thus better navigate the journey in toward unity with God, in Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1The writer is referring specifically to what we call today “Centering Prayer”, however this can be applied to almost any spiritual discipline that we set out to incorporate into our lives for the purpose of spiritual formation.
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Next week, Meditation #4 “Salvation Through Christ Alone”
May God Bless You All, Gene Yotka
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