Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On knowing…

In the first aborted ending to Mark’s Gospel—the oldest Gospel—the text ends on a very disappointing and thus likely truthful note: “They ran away from the tomb frightened out of their wits. They said nothing to a soul, for they were afraid” (16:5-8).

Such running from resurrection has been a prophecy for Christianity, and much of religion, just as in these early Scriptures. I interpret this as the human temptation to run from and deny not just the divine presence, but our own true selves, that is, our souls, our inner destiny, our true identity. Your True Self is that part of you that knows who you are and whose you are, although largely unconsciously. Your False Self is just who you think you are—but thinking doesn’t make it so.

We are made for transcendence and endless horizons, but our small ego usually gets in the way until we become aware of its petty preoccupations and eventually seek a deeper truth. It is like mining for a diamond. We must dig deep, and yet seem reluctant, even afraid, to do so.

We are not so at home with the resurrected form of things despite a yearly springtime, healings in our bodies, the ten thousand forms of newness in every event and every life. The death side of things grabs our imagination and fascinates us as fear and negativity always do, I am sad to say. We have to be taught how to look for anything infinite, positive, or good, which for some reason is much more difficult.

We have spent centuries of philosophy trying to solve “the problem of evil,” yet I believe the much more confounding and astounding issue is “the problem of good.” How do we account for so much gratuitous and sheer goodness in this world? Tackling this problem would achieve much better results.

Somehow resurrection—which I am going to equate with the revelation of our True Selves—is actually a risk and a threat to the world as we have constructed it. After any “raising up” of our True Selves, we will no longer fit into many groups, even much of religious society, which is often obsessed with and yet indulgent of the False Self, because that is all it knows.

Richard Rohr, excerpted from Immortal Diamond: the Search for Our True Self (due for publication February 2013)

It seems to me, deeply scary though it sounds, as though we must die to the idea of God, the idea of Christ as the Jesus of countless retold stories, in order to meet him at all. As Cynthia Bourgeault points out in her book Wisdom Jesus, his early disciples did not meet the Jesus we know, the crucified and risen Saviour of the world. They met a most unusual Man, and they weren’t sure who he was, or where his life really began… and yet they knew, they knew something so profound that they would give up everything to follow him, be near him, listen to his words and witness the things he did.

“Your True Self is that part of you that knows who you are and whose you are, although largely unconsciously.” We do know, if only we will stop thinking about how we know. The encounter with Christ takes place beyond all boundaries of history and geography, and our hearts will know him, as surely as we know our own breathing, even as our minds struggle even to name the truth we have just walked into.


Greenpatches said...

"... a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious..." these reflections put me in mind of my reading this morning.

Mike Farley said...

Yes, absolutely, GP... Our Lord is always more than we have imagined, never less!