Thursday, November 5, 2015

Looking into the Abyss

This is the follow up to a post on sin.  At some point you really do have to go there - to the abyss.
I have a feeling that there is no way that you can take your own sin seriously and not spend time looking in darkness and confusion.

That is the way I felt this morning as I came to prayer.  When I eventually came to prayer.  Part of what has happened to me this week is a whole lot of resistance and avoidance because - really - who wants to think about your own personal sin?  Not me. 

There is a prayer by Evelyn Underhill:
"Jesus show me what the attachments and cravings are which hold me down below your level of self surrender, real love.  Show me the things that lumber up in my hearts so that it cannot be filled with your life and power."   When God shows those things to you it is not easy.  Sometimes it can lead us to the Abyss.

Anyway, I finally got there and found myself looking in.  And this is how I would describe it - it is looking into the darkest place and facing the uncertain future.  It is looking within and seeing that great divide between who I want to be (and sometimes pretend to be) and who I am.

When I concluded the Wellstreams program I "wrote a book" called Becoming a Contemplative Pastor and in it I wrote about the Abyss.  I quoted one of my favorite writings that starts like this

I have decided for life
I have decided to grow
to do more than survive
to grow through the fog to the sun
that attractive star.

One of the stanzas is
"I have decided to take my chances with the abyss
to weather the painful in-betweens
to wake in my own blood
to mourn my lost innocence in the process of growth 
because all growth has as its heartflower
pain in its endless variations
and its petals are the many colors of suffering."

This morning I looked down into the fog and into the darkness of myself and there was - for me -
a light.  It was Jesus.  And  it was as if he was patting the ground beside him and inviting me down, smiling and saying: I am here to be with you.

And so, this journey inward is not always easy.  But I keep learning to hang in there, to pay attention and trust that I can sit with Him - in his light - safe, loved, forgiven, blessed.

May I remember this day.

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