Listen to post:
"The price of recognizing Jesus is always the same: our idea of him, of the church, of the spiritual journey, of God himself has to be shattered.*"
There seems to be no escaping this quote from yesterday's Thomas Keating reading. In sitting with it 24 hours, the scales are slowly falling away as some tangible comprehension becomes visible. On a non-thinking level, I knew it was truth the instant I read the passage. Keating means recognizing Jesus in the deepest, truest sense: personally knowing his presence. Not from Sunday-School lessons, drilled-in Scripture, an Easter sermon or someone else's conception. We are called by personal invitation into this mystery in the way we each can individually respond.
Shortly after beginning to attend Quaker meeting, I felt bold and safe enough to mention to our pastor that I wasn't sure who Jesus was to me. I was certain I'd get a firm answer; instead, he replied: "Well neither do I." I am still asking that question and, patiently, Jesus answers:
• As a three-year-old: Your heart is pure.
• As a teen: That was my reflection you saw in your ring. I am here.
• On the treadmill: My feet our yours.
• In a dream: Chosen One.
• In another dream: You had better choose.
• In the mirror: You see me in yourself.• In prayer: Give all of yourself to God, even the messy and broken parts. They are not yours to fix, but God's. Surrender them.
• In centering prayer: Just let yourself die; trust me.
• At the labyrinth: I am here always and will give you what you need to fulfill God's will.
• On the massage table: You can put down the burden you are carrying on your heart and in your body because I have already been sacrificed for that.
• In self reflection: God is not outside of you, but within. You have goodness within.• Through studying Luke: You can't possibly know how much you are loved. Surrender into it and love yourself.
The price has been to let go of my ego that has fashioned me in a negative light, trapped by its controlling illusion that I am damaged goods. Bit by bit, as that perception has been shattered, I am able to see the Divine within myself. As a result, I am attempting to live into the measure of light given me.
Though it may sound unrelated, I can draw a correlation with the recent purchase of a new car. It was hard for me, more so for the girls, to give up our beloved 1996 Jeep with almost 200,000 miles. I'd bought that car new when I had a corporate marketing job before kids. It was a splurge, but also necessary for an interstate commute. After driving small, economical cars, I was reveling in the luxury, showing it off to a friend, who remarked with honesty, "No, Cathy, this car isn't loaded." By my standards, it was.
We've had that car though thick and thin. I was riding in it, tending to an infant, when we were hit. I froze in a twisted position, which triggered a longtime battle with fibromyalgia. In struggling with the concept of a new, replacement, I have begun to understand it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with feeling I don't deserve good things. I have been living in a deprived, poverty mode on many levels, which was quite compatible with my ego's warped message that I am not worth much.
But that's not God's or Jesus' vision of me. Nor is it much of mine anymore.
By surrendering to their love, listening to where I am meant to live, I actually see my divine spark. That light is growing and pushing me outside of my ego's dark limitations, burning my old, illegible map and replacing it with a brighter, clearer one. The experiences teach me that the way I know God/Jesus best is directly
I've always liked myself, now I am learning to love myself, every wart and wobbly bit.**
• How has Jesus shattered your conceptions?
• What have been the replacements?
• What messages has Jesus provided over the years?
• Where are they leading?
• How have you surrendered into God's love?
*The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living, March 27 entry by Thomas Keating
**From Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, when her new beloved asks why she's covering herself up, Bridget responds, "Because I don't want you to see any of my wobbly bits."
toddling around curious
and still connected
I had no idea
I was anything but
until an uninformed
adult pointed to
black paper and said that
was the color of my heart
I am sure something
rebelled, but I wasn't
developed enough to
so I took that message
deep and buried it
like a shadow,
it has always haunted me
colored my self image
fed into any other negative
comment, experience or feeling
slowly and consistently
over the years,
Jesus waged a battle
against that egoic message
it stood underneath that rusty
whispering its words of
until the chains disintegrated,
replaced by a flame that
continues to grow