Sunday, April 11, 2010

Testifying to the Resurrection

There is nothing truer to the celebration of Easter than bearing witness to the Resurrection. The Resurrection of Christ, after all, is not simply an historical event, very nice for Jesus and all, and a nice way to start a new religion. It has intense meaning for every person who has met Christ, and for those who have not yet met Christ. We who are baptized are baptized into Christ's dying and rising. What He did for us also happens in us as the Holy Spirit gives it birth in us throughout our life.

And so I wish to celebrate Easter and this Divine Mercy Sunday by giving testimony to something the Holy Spirit has given birth to in me, recently.

Even though the process leading up to the moment, of course, was a looooooooooong time in coming (my whole life, I think) the moment of this blessed experience of the Resurrection of Christ for me was the sacrament of Confession. A pastor of mine once told me that sometimes the grace of the sacrament "hits you" before you actually make your confession, and sometimes it hits you afterwards, but at still other times it hits you right there while in the process. My experience, a couple of weeks ago now, was exactly the latter. While I confessed and received absolution, I experienced a grace which I can only describe in hindsight as life-altering.

I focus on the grace, of course, and not on what I confessed. The image that came to mind right away was that of moving a long, flat rock that lay exposed in a garden. Nothing was ever going to bloom under that rock, but moving it aside changes all that, and it sure explains why trying to plant or dig there has never worked well!

Specifically, the immense freedom that I have experienced as a result of the Holy Spirit's landscaping efforts in my soul seems best described by the notion (what I mean will be easily misunderstandable at first) of giving up on finding the meaning in life. Let me try to explain.

You need to start with the image of an intensely brooding young teenage girl, one who is obsessed with the "meaning of life." I say that in quotation marks, because what she doesn't really know is that she is not obsessed with the true meaning of life or finding it, even though she thinks she is. She is obsessed with defining the meaning of everything around her. This was me. Being an intellectual and spiritual girl made this probably all the deeper a tangle for me, because I was not completely inaccurate about some of the definitions I gave to things. Yet, they were mine. It was in my hands to reinvent every wheel, to discover it all, to say what it all meant. To keep all the plates spinning.

This is nothing but a Satanic tactic. Because under this seemingly marvelous (in my eyes) spiritual and intellectual endeavor to find the meaning of life (and subsequently to appreciate it far more than anyone else around me -- snoot in the air) was the terrifying worry that there actually was no meaning. To anything. It didn't exist without me putting it there, and as soon as I stopped, meaning stopped. This was the lie that got reinforced with my every effort to tighten the screws of my soul around "what it all really means."

How can I capture in words the happy grace that is like this stone being moved away? What I see now is that it is not up to me to say what it means, or even to know what it means. It is up to me to simply embrace the meaning that is there, given not by me, but by the Creator of all things. I simply need to open my eyes and see.

For concomitant with this sense of my quest to "find meaning" everywhere was a sense of fear in the face of the profound. The profound would hint to me of true meaning, which served to confuse my sense of my plate-spinning responsibility. Was profundity merely the product of my own machinations? If this were true, though I so dearly wanted it not to be, then I knew profundity would vanish, shatter, upon too close an embrace. Good would all prove a mirage.

But the experience of this grace of giving up "finding meaning" is freedom. And freedom here means knowledge that the Good simply is, and more than that -- is given to me quite apart from my own machinations. God is real. Meaning is real. Love is real. All existed before me, and I enter into their world, not them into mine.

So instead of wasting so much time and effort trying to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, I see I am free now to embrace, more deeply, the Good Itself. I have awe, but not fear and panic, in the face of the profundity of love. Practically speaking, this removes another barrier from my communication with other people. Life feels simpler. Freer. Like things will start to grow in newly fertile soil. And Beauty is all around me.

This is how Christ's Resurrection touches my life now.

He has done all things well! (Mark 7:31)

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