The Human Condition - Contemplation and the Divine Therapy-6
None of us knows until we have been through difficult problems and tragedies what we do in a challenging situation. Once I attended a panel discussion of people who had suffered during the Holocaust and other barbaric oppressions of this century. one woman on the panel had survived the Holocaust, but her parents had been killed.
She had started a humanitarian organization to prevent such horrors from being repeated and mentioned casually, "You know, I couldn't have started that organization unless I knew that, with the situation just a little different, I could have done the same things that the Nazis did to my parents and the others in the concentration camps." This woman, it seems to me, possessed true humility-the knowledge of one's self that clearly perceives that with just a little change of circumstancs, one is capable of any evil.
The spiritual journey is not a career or a success story, It is a series of humiliations of the false self that becomes more and more profound. These make room inside us for the Holy Spirit to come in and heal. What prevents us from being unavailable to God is gradually evacuated.
We keep getting closer and closer to our center . Every now and then God lifts a corner of the veil and enters into our awareness through the various channels, as if to say, " Here I am. Where are you? Come and join me."
In the Near East, centuries ago successive cultures built new cities on top of the last ones. For some reason, people didn't bother using new space; they just burned down what was there when they defeated an enemy and built something new. The ruins of these ancient cities built one on top of the other are called "tells." The spiritual journey is like an archaeological dig through the various stages of our lives, from where we are now back through the midlife crisis, adult life, adolescence, puberty, early childhood, infancy. What happens if we allow that archaeological dig to continue? We feel that we are getting worse; we are just finding out how bad off we always were.
From a vertical point of view, our conversation begins at the place we are now in our relationship to God. First we clear off the the brush, stones, and debris at the top of our interior "tell ". Our agreement with the divine therapist is to allow the Holy Spirit to bring us to the truth about ourselves. This initial period of conversation corresponds to the springtime of the spiritual life, when prayer is easy, and we have great energy in pursuing practices of self-denial, various forms of prayer, ministry, and other forms of social service. As we begin to trust God more, we enjoy a certain freedom form our vices and may often experience great satisfaction in our spiritual endeavors.
When God decides we are ready, he invites us to a new level of self-knowledge. God withdraws the inital consolations of conversation, and we are plunged in darkness, spiritual dryness, and confusion. We think that God has abondened us. Because we don't enjoy the same emotional experiences as before, we think that God must have departed for the next universe and couldn't care less about us.
This is especially poignant for people who have felt rejection in early life; now they feel they have been rejected by God, and that is the ultimate rejection. The dark nights are especially tough on them. But if they can weight them out, they will be completely healted of their sense of rejection for good when they rediscover God at a deeper level of faith.
This is especially poignant for people who have felt rejection in early life; now they feel they have been rejected by God, and that is the ultimate rejection. The dark nights are especially tough on them. But if they can weight them out, they will be completely healted of their sense of rejection for good when they rediscover God at a deeper level of faith. Instead of going away , God simply moves downstairs, so to speak, and waits for us to come and join him. Perhaps God wonders what the grumbling is all about. What makes us think God has gone away? The divine presence can't go away. God is existence and fills everything that exists (St.Thomas Aquinas). The Gospel teaches us that Christ is present in the storm, not just emerging from the storm.
Some films are like the parables in the Gospel; they bring out our attention moral. social and spiritual issues that we wouldn't otherwise learn about through the medium of ordinary words. I remember seeing the movie Love Story and for three days afterwards, I was in tears. The plot is simple enough. It concerns a young man and woman who are totally in love with one another, live for each other, and are everything to each other. Then she is diagnosed with an inoperable cance and in a few months is dead. The whole meaning of his life is wiped out.
Reference: The Human Condition : Thomas Keating.
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