“Where your treasure is there also will your heart be”
People in general, unless they have some sort of personality disorder, give the impression of wanting to be more truly human. We admire those who display compassion and empathy, especially when it is directed towards us and we enjoy being around them. We ponder concepts like ‘justice’ and ‘mercy’, though they are not easily achieved. Injustice and the seeking of revenge appear to be the stronger force, but that is because when acted out it is like the flash of a grease fire. Powerful and hard to put out but often over quickly. Then, of course, there is the aftermath to deal with. It is the aftermath where compassion, mercy and empathy come into play. In the midst of the fire, both the best and worst can be seen clearly in how people react to an extreme situation.
When young most of us start off with a full chessboard, for life can be looked upon as a game, a war of sorts, where we play with what we got. When young we pretty much have a full board. We have all of our pawns, two bishops, two knights, two castles, a queen and a king; each of us being the king. They say youth is wasted on the young. I don’t agree with that. They need all the strength they can muster to make a good go of life. Life is serious business; we have to deal with what comes at us, as well as what is within us. How we fight, or relate, to what we experience and meet on the way is very important. Not everyone survives the younger years. War, drugs and alcohol, accidents and disease, take many before they live too long. Some lose all their pawns at an early age. Others may lose some important pieces very early on but as long as the queen is in place and a few other pieces, life can move forward. There is always hope.
The battle I believe is not so much with what is ‘outside’. We battle with our past and how it dictates to us how we actually deal with life on a regular basis. What we call ‘sins’ are often a way of dealing with the stress and pain of our everyday lives. If we seek to escape pain by avoiding it, it will only increase and our ability to deal with it will lessen. For we grow and mature by not running away from what pains us, but facing it, taking responsibility and not allowing ourselves to becoming victims, or taking our inner turmoil out on others. I believe that the world around us, our cultures, both good and bad that is within them, the order and chaos, the love and the hatred and the indifference, are a reflection of our inner lives. We form the world around us.
Not everyone experiences life as a battle, a chess game. It works for me because of my own particular inner constellation. As I get older my chess pieces are pretty battered up. The ones still left of course, but overall, slowly, as the years pass by, I am finding more peace and contentment…..amid the chaos. I doubt that I am alone in this. One of the fruits of sharing is that the commonality of experience is learned……this revelation saves from the curse of ‘terminal uniqueness’. If you want to meet a boring person or one who drains you of energy, they usually suffer from this affliction.
I still have a bishop, two knights, though both castles are now gone. I have half of my pawns and of course the queen. So I am still pretty strong, though now, not as cocky as when I was young and ‘in control’. The inner pieces of my fragmented psyche are starting to come together because of the place that I have learned to stand from. I am not sure where that place is all of the time, but the reality of the ‘Presence” grows, even as I age and my body and even my brain seem to be changing…..not always for the best. Yet that inner core seems to be growing, even if my body and mind and how I relate to the world around me are changing at an ever rapid rate. People have faith, if they live long enough, and live out from that center, they have experiences that point to an open-ended relationship with something so vast and loving, that the mind can’t even begin to explain it. It simply grows into an ‘unknowing-knowing’. There is a reason that when people come back from having an NDE that they can’t find the words to explain their experience. Skeptic’s can mock all they want, but when they have their experience, many become quiet and more reflective. I believe that like St. Paul, each of us will have the ‘Damascus experience’ just as he did. I have had more than one. Some have their experience early in life, others much later.
I love God, I trust in God, I hope in God, and each day I fail, but I am buoyed by ‘Grace”, something that will not allow me to sink into the inner chaos that I have the misfortune of being too keenly aware of. Peter got out of the boat and as long as he looked to the Lord he was ok, it was when he looked at his feet that he sank. In Him, we live and move and have our being. I also experience my connection with everyone at ever deeper levels. That when I pray or breathe, I have all with me, past, present, and future. I know it sounds crazy, but we really are one in Christ. I also understand that this grace cannot be boxed in by any group. I sense the reality of God’s spirit all the time when I met people who are seeking to become more loving, giving and compassionate. That search is a sure sign of God’s grace……as a Christian I don’t of any other words to use.—Br.MD