A beautiful encounter
This evening after compline (our 7:30 prayer), I was going around making sure everything was locked up. Over the years we have had to become conscious of our security. When I went out to the back porch that is right outside of our ‘talking dining room’ I saw a young lady there. I asked her to lock the door when she finished her reading; but she came right in. The day ends very early here, so by 8 PM most of the guest have called it a day. Many get up for our 4 AM office.
She was 29 I believe and radiant, gentle, and I could tell a loving soul. So we talked a bit. She was a psychotherapist by trade; which did not surprise me. During our short conversation t I found out she was a 7th day Adventist. I was a little surprised, but not greatly so, that she would come to a Catholic Monastery. She smiled and said that some of her friends are very ‘staunch’ in their beliefs, but she was taught to be open to others. Which shows, her being here and her open loving presence.
My sister was a 7th day and I have studied their faith a bit. It is not very friendly towards the Catholic faith, at least as far as the founder goes and I guess with much of those who follow this path. My sister was a deeply loving woman who spent much of her life taking care of the elderly and dying. She was a joy to be around and to say she was very energetic is an understatement. She has three lovely children. She died a few years back and I still miss her.
When meeting with people, no matter their faith path, or lack thereof, some are easier to talk to, others, better to stay away from them. This young woman was a seeker after truth. When Jesus said that those who seek, find, I believe he was talking about being childlike in our pursuit after what is true, good, and holy. Seekers will always be happy when they find out the truth, for they are seeking. When that seeking stops, then entrenchment happens and many problems flow from that.
I believe that the Christian faith is very young, that we are only at the beginning of our understanding about the message and love that Jesus has brought into the world. The fact that there are so many divisions and conflicts in the Body of Christ, hatred even, and condemnation, of any who disagree, point to being still being bound by what St. Paul called ‘sarx’, or the flesh. We are still primitive, tribal and can be easily be swallowed up by fear of the other which shows itself in anger and defensiveness. Christians stereotype just as much as anyone else, and have the same pre-judgements about others races, countries and religions and those who have none. It is normal, yet I believe that Christ is calling us all to something more. There are some exceptions, people who get it, but sad to say I still struggle with this aspect of the flesh that keeps walls up between me and others and because of that, with God as well.
Who can understand Jesus? His Message? It is the struggle to grow in understanding that keeps the Christian path alive. The problem with certain types of fundamentalism is that it becomes an ideology, which will one day die of suffocation. Some liberals (so called) are pretty much the same. Once we believe that we have found truth in a rigid way we become entrenched, defensive and fearful of anything that will destroy the idol or god that we worship, or political, or social, model that we believe in. So, yes we are still very young I believe.
It was a joy meeting this young woman and hope to see her back here in the future. It is the Holy Spirit that compels us to search and to seek wisdom. As well as to grow in trust of God and in the knowledge of his love for all. Many Christians seem to delight in trying to prove otherwise. We do not know the heart of any other human being. Our own heart is a mystery to each of us as well, so better not to judge ourselves or others. God is infinite compassion, I am nowhere near that, how could I be? I see little when it comes to others. God is Love. The more I ponder on that, the deeper the mystery. Yet in meeting this young girl, I got a little glimpse into that love. She was a window for me, and icon, for did not Jesus tells us that he identifies with all, to the least, to our enemies and we are called to seek to see the way he does, to put on the Mind-Of-Christ. So why should I be surprised that I see Christ Jesus so clearly in a sister of the faith?
O Lord how tired I get
of myself and my fears,
of my tendency without thinking
to judge and forget who I see
before me in all their humanity,
for you dwell in each heart
and each of us is called to see that reality
and to draw out that flame
to deeper love and beauty.