Friday, December 19, 2014

Just Say Yes

"Love is in the Air"
- Sunrise at the Desert Retreat House -

As I see it, there is no more beautiful poetry than may be found in the biblical stories of Christmas. Just yesterday, I came across a Christmas card depicting the "Annunciation." The Angel Gabriel is dressed in snow-white robes as he enfolds the maiden Mary in his fluttering wings, inviting her to accept an invitation to become pregnant with the power of "God." Mary says "yes" to the invitation as she surrenders her old-self and becomes a new-self, allowing the power of love to fill her up completely. 

What a shame it would be to view this tenderly beautiful Annunciation story as a single historical event -something that happened to a young Palestinian girl some 2000 years ago, because this story tells the tale of every human soul- regardless of religious belief or non-belief. 

We sometimes think that the spiritual journey is something that we initiate, a journey that we embark upon in order to pursue God, to seek transcendence, to find a deeper truth. I actually think we have it reversed -the  direction of the spiritual journey flows in the other direction. "God' is seeking us; truth and wisdom looks for us. Every day "Grace" comes knocking at the door of our lives.
I am reminded of something the theologian, Paul Tillich, wrote a few years back describing what it is like to be "struck by grace"

Do we know what it means to be struck by grace? We cannot transform our lives unless we allow them to be transformed by that stroke of grace. Certainly grace does not happen if we try to force it upon ourselves. And also, it does not happen if we think, in our self-complacency, that we have no need of it.

Grace often strikes us when we are in pain or restless, walking through a dark valley of a meaningless life. It strikes us when we feel our separation deeper than usual. It strikes us when year after year the longed-for perfection of life does not appear.

When grace strikes, a wave of light breaks into our darkness and it is as if a voice is saying, 'You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you. So simply accept the fact that you are accepted.'

In these cold dark days of late December, "Love" is in the air and "Grace" comes knocking at our door. The Angel Gabriel appears, "his wings are drifted snow, his eyes as flame." He embraces us in a gentle power and tells each of us that we are "highly favored." Then, invites us to "say yes" to "Love" 

And if we do say "yes," we accept the fact that we are accepted.  The old-self dies, the new-self is born. 

The Islamic poet, Rumi, once wrote:

You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave until it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know

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