May those who hate me read this and say to themselves, ‘Ah yes, how conniving he is! How he has fooled everyone!’
I used to be very afraid of being falsely accused, falsely judged and put to death by those to whom I have only tried to be a friend.
‘Falsely?’ they would say. ‘Oh no, you are guilty. We know it with absolute certainty. We don't need any evidence to condemn you, and all the evidence you think you have, even though you don't push it at us, it’s all fake anyway. You're living in denial.’
There is one very dear friend, with whom I once shared a very special friendship. No need to recount what happened, but we were divided by the devil. Yes, I put it that simply. But Christ never allows him the final victory, and as long as we live, the book of our history is still open and being written. May God forgive us and reunite us, but…
and I really mean this… only if He wants to.
About human relationships, whether in or out of Christ, I know nothing. I no longer enter into them intentionally. I just simply do what I see the Lord Jesus doing as I follow right behind Him, and I accept whatever happens. He sends people to me and me to people.
I do what He indicates. I never say ‘No’ to Him, but always ‘Yes.’ Someone will cry out, ‘Liar! Hypocrite! You don’t always say Yes! and I can prove it!’
Strange to tell, but saying ‘Yes’ to God does not always mean saying ‘Yes’ to people.
Friendship and flocking. Sure, sometimes people can be of a very similar mindset, but it is not necessarily in the details, which is where people intent on forming friendships often go wrong. When they start out that way, no matter whatever else happens, in the end they fall to nitpicking each other to death in hopeless pursuit of a sameness that is unreachable.
Just as there is only One God, we, who are made in His image, are each the only one of us there is. We are all completely custom made, and the Lord in His unfathomable kindness has created a world and time in which such creatures as He made us, in every way unique universes, copies of Himself in a minor key, can actually meet, converse, enrich one another, because of the common room into which He has placed us. This thought is never far from my daily working consciousness. Everyone we meet is vaster than the physical universe we find ourselves in.
As C. S. Lewis most truly says, ‘the inside is bigger than the outside.’ This seems to be the consistent principle evident in what God has brought into being.
Not necessarily in the details, which is like saying, we don’t like and own all the same ‘things’, but rather in the action of heart and mind. Two runners pace each other in preparation for their big race, where they will not ever compete against another, but against themselves. They enjoy running together: that’s the unity of the action of their hearts and minds. They don’t care a fig what each other is wearing, what color their eyes or hair are, what they had for breakfast that morning, or where they will sleep tonight. It’s running that brings them together. Yet that doesn’t make their relationship any less real.
‘You raise the horns of the virtuous, and cut off all the horns of the wicked’ (Psalm 75).
Yes, in one case, the horn a musical instrument, in the other a biological augment for protection, or are both the same somehow? and isn’t it clear that when we serve the Lord, when we run the race He sets before us, alone or together (though we are made to run side by side, at least with Him), it is not ourselves we preach, but Jesus Christ, not our own horns we toot, but the shofar of the Lord, who has given it to us for exactly that purpose?
Humbled, humbled by the reality that presses down on us, as we are sifted, pressed through, leaving behind the chaff, collecting the fine flour, so that the Baker can form us into loaves for the brethren to share. Like Amma Pelagía, the desert mother who ran into the Temple, looking for good bishop Nonnus, ‘nobody,’ so he could receive her and make her Christ’s bride, she who was formerly lost in the sins of the theatre…
Bare head and shoulders and legs she ran
right into the bakery to look for a man.
Pushing aside the grandmothers who swept,
she found holy feet, hung on them, and wept.
Oh, what a damaging love to display,
scandal to snobbery, death to dismay.
There nobody loved her but gave her away
in a font to her husband through the spray.
Though everyone saw her, nobody looked,
as she rode among them, her whole body booked
decked out in pearls, the wages of fame,
rage of the girls, her stage wasn’t tame,
flaunting her curls, PELAGIA her name.
Humbled, humbled by the reality of friendship.