‘This is my planet.’ I used to say that to justify my enjoyment of being out in nature, especially in the winter, here in Oregon wearing just my trousers, bare-chested, with unsocked sandaled feet, as I walk through the forests near my home. Pretending to be a Native American, I still look forward to living here someday, out in the wilds, like an ‘Indian.’ But that may just be the private dream of a person who never was. In the real world, aside from my leisure hours at home, I dress and conform to mainstream culture like everyone else. No, I don’t wear Birkenstocks.
Traveling anywhere on this planet is for me another following of the call. I have no idea of what I will do there, or of why I am being sent. I have no delusions of ‘being on a mission’ any more than the next guy. My whole life is a mission, and I am not in charge of it. Like a poor beast of burden, but one lavishly loved by its owner, I just keep moving in a direction He only knows. Beast of burden? Well, no, that was a very poor choice of words. Our good and gracious Lord treats no one, absolutely no one, that way. Not as a dumb beast, not even as a servant, not even as a son, but as an only son and a firstborn: that’s how He treats us, all of us.
It is a beautiful, rainy/sunny day here in Oregon. I love my homeland and country so much, but strangely, I love even more wherever and among whom the Lord sends me. Fr Louis Evely writes, somewhere in his book That Man Is You—I can’t find the exact place—it’s because the saints have no home anywhere that they can feel at home everywhere. By saints, of course, he means you and me. (Sometimes I forget just how much I owe to this Belgian Roman Catholic priest who finished his course outside the institutional priesthood, and with a good conscience.) Where I’m headed, always seems home.
I greet you all, my friends, and my enemies too, if I have any. What would life be without your friendship? What would life be if I were not wearing these chains? The way of Christ is perfect, because it is a life of mercy, of forgiveness, of affirmation, of freedom, of love. It is being transformed beyond all that you once could recognize. It is being poured out and yet never emptied. One blood, one body, one heart, the human race redeemed and ransomed by the head sorely wounded, to be part of that, to be knitted into the seamless robe of Jesus Christ, what is called ‘the Church,’ who is called ‘the Bride.’ Yes, always, not ‘what,’ but ‘who.’
Once we were lumps of clay, but the Threefold Radiance breathed soul into us. Once we stumbled and broke ourselves, but the Only-Begotten fell with us into that deepest of all pits, and then stood up, taller than the sky, and raised us on high with Him. To free us from our passions, yes, the Merciful Lord, having done all that He was sent to do, releases us now in Himself to do even greater works, because the Divine Nature before all ages, has come among us as a newborn Child, and invites us also to appear before the world. The First-Born from the dead, first-born in every way, invites us to become as He is in the world. ‘You are the Light of the world…’