Thursday, October 02, 2008

The great divide...

Francis' reading of the gospel is of utmost relevance today. His focus and emphasis is the same as Jesus'. His life was an enacted parable, an audiovisual aid to gospel freedom; it gives us the perspective by which to see as Jesus did: the view from the bottom.

He insists by every facet of his life that we can only see rightly from a disestablished position. He wanted to be poor most of all - simply because Jesus was poor...

Jesus and Francis had no pragmatic agenda for social reform. They just moved outside the system of illusion, more ignoring it than fighting it and quite simply doing it better.

Don't waste any time dividing the world into the good guys and the bad guys. Hold them both together in your own soul - where they are anyway - and you will have held together the whole world.

You will have overcome the great divide - in one place of spacious compassion. You, little you, will have paid the price of redemption. God takes it from there, but always by replicating the same pattern in another conscious human life.

Richard Rohr, from Hope Against Darkness

I think these words are becoming more and more relevant each day we live in these troubled times. We are no longer free to imagine that we can insure against our own mortality, that we can pay for protection against the brokenness and impermanence of things.

Curiously, I remember being struck with this thought one day when I was very young, maybe 20 or 21, a young rock musician in London with never an idea of becoming a Christian. I was sitting on the nice new Habitat sofa of my nice flat in Putney, thinking about the words of a song I was trying to write, when it suddenly occurred to me that nothing would last. Not my words, nor my music, nor anything I was working for or trying to achieve, not any of the people I loved or cared for, past, present or future. Not the music of my friends, nor of the contemporaries I admired but had yet to meet, nor the music of the old bluesmen; not György Sándor Ligeti's nor Gustav Mahler's, not even Bach's. Everything beautiful, and loveable, and good that I knew would fall to dust, and the howling dark of the interstellar spaces would swallow it up.

I wish I could say that I turned to God in my horror and desolation; but I didn't. My music darkened, and I turned increasingly to psychedelics, filling notebooks with my findings as I tried to find answers to questions I could hardly frame.

The rest is a long story... but finally it's only in following Francis that I have found the answer lying in Rohr's words here, "You will have overcome the great divide - in one place of spacious compassion. You, little you, will have paid the price of redemption. God takes it from there, but always by replicating the same pattern in another conscious human life." For the great divide is more than the divide between rich and poor, more even than the divide between good and evil: it is the final, awful divide between l' être et le néant, between all things and no-thing. God takes it from there.

At this time our Lord showed me an inward sight of his homely loving. I saw that he is everything that is good and comforting to us. He is our clothing. In his love he wraps and holds us. He enfolds us in love and will never let us go.

And then he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazlenut, in the palm of my hand - and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind's eye and I thought: "What can this be?" And answer came: "It is all that is made." I marvelled that it could last, for I thought it might have crumbled to nothing, it was so small. And the answer came into my mind: "It lasts, and ever shall, because God loves it." And so all things have being through the love of God.

Julian of Norwich, Showings (Long Text) Chapter 5, tr. Sheila Upjohn

1 comment:

  1. wow. Interesting story, Mike. For me, it was less "cosmic". What drew me back was the series Brideshead Revisited. I am such a couch potato! That line of the younger sister's about God keeping you on a string, so when you stray too far, there is a tug that pulls you back. I felt that tug.

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