Saturday, March 17, 2012

What we were born wanting

Profound, inexpressible grief sometimes comes over you. Something you see or hear suddenly takes hold of you down deep, drags you like an undertow and pulls you away from the safety of the shore. It may dash you against the rocks and knock you out, dragging what’s left of you out to sea, to a greater deep than you ever dared imagine. And the shore, for you, it is no more.

Where does this grief come from? What was it in what you saw or heard that first drew you? Sometimes you know, but more often you just feel, and you understand little or nothing. All that is certain is that you are drawn, whether you want to be or not, and that you cannot break free. Each time it happens, you think it is for the last time, but you know it is not, even if you pray.

It is what you were born wanting. It is that, which draws you, and you don’t want to be born wanting. You just want to be free. You cannot stop resisting, but most of the time, you give in, secretly glad, and allow yourself to be dragged out to those unimaginable depths, only to be returned by the waves and left lying, lifeless, on that shore, to resume your safe and daily life.

Everything we pretend to say and do, everything we think and feel, float like foam on the surface of the deep. What is below, dark, unsunlit lands travelled only by pilgrims of the dream. There it is again, the dream. Are we dreaming of being born wanting what? Is what we were born wanting only a dream? No, we wish it were, but this is a trap from which there is no escape.

Lord our God, You know what You meant when You uttered our names and brought us into the field of life, sharing with us Your gift of being. You whisper Your meaning to us in our dreams, and even awake we sense but do not know, only that something draws us into an abyss we neither asked for nor chose, like unknowing swimmers we are pulled by the undertow, unwilling yet glad.

Bring us back, O Lord, as You brought Jonah back from the belly of the whale. Fish us out, O Christ, as You fished Lazarus out of the deep, the dark unknown, the despairing sea of death. Gather us, O Spirit, as You gathered Your people Israel from the four winds to fill the land again. ‘Where could I go to escape Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your Presence? If I climb the heavens…’

Amen and amen, Lord. You created us from nothing. You made us, what we were born wanting, what we live is before Your face, You feel this same grief that we feel, You became even as we are. How long, O Lord, how long? Come, rescue us, retrieve our remains, offer our bodies to the sea and our souls to the depths, that we may forget our dreams, and in darkness receive from You

what we were born wanting.

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