Looking upward or downward
(Mercy Sunday 2013)
Trust is about looking upward and not downward. What do I mean by that? Perhaps the main struggle that is faced in the spiritual life is not in the many moral situations what we face, for we all fail, at times we fail in grievous ways, though they may not be thought of in that way. Most people have specific struggles that accompany them throughout their lives. It could be some kind of addiction. Drugs or alcohol or perhaps some kind of sexual compulsion, that is quite common in those who also seek God. Or it could be anger, or sloth, or perhaps there are some who can’t stand to be wrong, who gossip. Yes, most of us have something that we struggle with. Some with perhaps many of the above at the same time and in their mind at least, may seem that the more they seek to come closer to God, the worse they become. Such is self knowledge that accompanies us all on the spiritual path. There are also those who seem not to struggle with much at all and they may have a tendency to look down on those who do struggle and fall. This could be the worst of all, the pride that comes with placing oneself above others. The more we are wounded, the deeper our struggles will be; yet also our compassion and empathy for others.
Self knowledge is a two edge sword and it cuts both ways. It wounds and heals at the same time, if the one experiencing this inner pain does not retreat into despair, or perhaps some kind of frenzied activity, that in the end only makes things worse. Despair is a total turning inward on our conflicted and torn inner nature, a giving up, allowing one-self to be beaten down by overly focusing on our perceived character and not on the mercy of God. To look downward is to place oneself within a circle and seeking to hide from God, thinking that salvation is beyond the pale for them. I suppose many on the path have been there, but did not stay. Perhaps been there many times and have come out of it. The light returns in spite of oneself, allowing for the journey to begin once again, but on a level deeper than what went before. In time because of the light that returns and beckons, we learn faster for some, slower for others, to look upward.
Jesus said: “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust”. Trust and fear cannot exist together, either one is in the ascendency while the other weakens. Fear is an instinctive response before something that is perceived as a threat. There is no choice to be made, we simply allow an old way of life to dictate to us how we react. Trust is another matter; it is based on a conscious choice to turn away from fear, to state that no matter how many times there is failure, no matter what my insides tell me, I can still make an act of trust in God’s mercy and love. Trust allows the soul to become other centered, into a greater reality that is part of an eternal journey into love and union.
Like Jacob we all struggle with God, and like Jacob we are wounded in the struggle through self knowledge and in that process we make a covenant with God. In this covenant, it is God who is faithful, who calls us back, and calls us to continue our journey even if we do limp or crawl at times on the way.
As we mature and look back at our darkest moments. When we failed, or wandered off the path, or gave up in inner rage, and see that all along Jesus was with us. The infinite is impossible to imagine. Infinite love, unending mercy, compassion that is deeper than any ocean, is something that we learn slowly in this life. One step at a time…One choice to trust at a time…and in that fire of trust is our healing, the opening of our hearts at ever deeper levels.