Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Moving beyond ‘should’
Each and every day should begin with our thoughts turned towards God. At the very moment we open our eyes, we should be thanking the Lord for having slept through the night, safely, and give thanks for a new day.
Before we leave for work, we should observe, faithfully, the Morning Prayers, lighting our lampadas, and standing before our icons in prayer.
Before we walk out the door, we should offer ourselves in service to God, asking Him to keep us safe from all harm, and for help in living out another day according to the Gospels.
When we begin our day in prayer, we are empowered with a peaceful heart, and enabled to bear witness to Christ, with a life that shines forth in holiness and love.
Now I have no problem at all with what the good abbot says. If you follow his instructions, your life may indeed be blessed. Yes, prayer changes things. It can empower you with a peaceful heart. It may embolden you to witness for Christ. Your life may shine forth in holiness and love. Or, maybe not.
I personally know people who follow, as to the externals, the kind of disciplined path that the abbot counsels. Yet, they are anything but blessed, in their thoughts, their feelings, their actions. I have prayed with them, following their prescribed rituals, in their homes, and then sat down with them to dinner, only to hear uninterrupted criticism of others, even of the Church. I am almost suffocated by it. Thinking back to the time spent in prayer with them, I wonder in my heart, what were they really saying while ‘praying’?
Yes, the abbot is correct about how one who is in love with the Lord rises from his bed, every morning his thoughts directed to God, from the moment of awakening his mind and heart full of gratitude. This is not a matter of ‘should’ but of ‘do’. It's not that I should meet each new day this way, but that I do.
Our response to each new day can only be the honest testimony of our hearts, for as Christ says, ‘Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also.’ A religious attitude in us or in others tries to force our love.
How we speak of Christ and of life in the Holy Triad will necessarily shape our inmost thoughts and mold our attitudes. I am now speaking from experience. Theology is a science, and one's soul must be gradually improved by a process of spiritual engineering. ‘As a man thinks, so is he,’ the scriptures tell us, and it is true, though modern gimmickry aping the spiritual laws of the ancient faith while disavowing Christ have concocted the heady potions of self-realization seminars and other conceits.
Speak of Christ, tell His heavenly sayings, always in the present tense, because the present is the only place where He meets us and we meet Him. Yes, ‘He was, He is, and He is to come,’ but again, if we do not find Him here, if we do not respond to His call now, today, we will never find Him in heaven. He will remain a historical figure at best, and at worst, a myth. But He comes to us to put an end to mythology, except where it acknowledges Him. He fulfills all myths, calls us out of non-being into Being.
Again, as the apostle teaches, ‘You have been set free. Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.’ What slavery? It is only slaves who need to be told, they should do this or that. It is only employees who need to be constantly prodded, even coerced, yes, even threatened (with hellfire?) to make them do what is right. Do what is right? How can we not, when He who is our Righteousness has covered us from head to toe in His own skin? ‘All who have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!’ We are sons.
This is something worth more than just singing about. This is not something we should be thankful for. It is more than we asked for, more than we ever knew, until we are made aware that ‘Christ is in our midst. He is and ever shall be.’ What room is there for religion or for what we ‘should’ do when we are standing in His presence, ‘before His face’ as the Psalms declare? There is no religion in Eden, only relationship. No past or future, only the present. God our God speaks to us, is with us, among us, in us, for us.
Don't you think it’s time for us to be moving beyond ‘should’?
at 1:13 PM