Thursday, 30 January 2014

ST. JOHN 1: 3-5

Earlier, this brilliant, sunny, extremely cold day with a fierce wind, another polar vortex pushing deep into the south of this continent, I was outside for a brief walk, being very cautious as the sidewalks and roads are coated in a thick layer of ice.
I was reflecting on the notes I had, literally, penned earlier. Even though I enjoy the comparative silence of writing on a computer compared to the clack-clickity-clack of typewriters of old [remember the first computers which had a sound button so the keyboard would mimic the sound of a typewriter – what a hoot!] I do enjoy writing with pen and ink, not only is the physical motion of writing relaxing but it serves as a connection, a reminder of the importance in daily life of rhythmic slowness, gentleness, patience.
As I was reflecting on those notes, expanding them in my mind and heart I was moved to speak with the Holy Spirit, feeling a certain sense of unease it has taken me so long to write this next section when suddenly I realized what arrogance, indeed what a distraction from being steeped in, focused on, attentive to, listening and allowing to permeate my being, the sacred words of the Holy Gospel!
I like to think, and mostly living the hermitical life it is true, that I am not caught up in the hurly-burly rush of modern life – but some of it does seep in even here, Lord have mercy.
Granted there is a certain health benefit to jogging but on my daily walks when the weather is warm enough to encounter joggers I am always mystified by their expressions – never relaxed and joyful but always so intense and I find myself wondering to where or from what, from whom are they running?
This modern obsession with youth, with being buff, or whatever, that has modern entrepreneurs making fortunes with their gyms, exercise machines, vitamins, chemical peels, causes me to pray constantly for right order in human life.
Right order being quite simply that we all rediscover from the moment of our creation, indeed the reason we are created, is that we are beloved, beloveds whom He places tenderly on the first step of the journey, the pilgrimage of life within the wombs of our mothers, for we are already in His Heart for His Heart, His Love, He Himself is our origin, a journey whose end point is no point at all, but a person, Himself.
When St. John tells us, v. 3: All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made, the Holy Apostle is giving us the purpose and place of our existence: communion of love and life with the Most Holy Trinity, made accessible through the life, passion, death, resurrection of the Word Himself, Jesus Christ.
I leave it to scientists to argue over the material unfolding of creation to the extent such things are discoverable by human ingenuity.
We the baptized, I pray, should not be so limited for we are gifted by the Holy Spirit with His gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
From time to time I enjoy visiting the various websites where can be found images from Hubble and other spacecraft exploring the stars and planets, for everything in existence that can be named when gazing upon the stars above or tadpoles in a warm spring pond shine and shimmer with the amazing reality HE IS, HE LOVES!
Granted there is much within human life on this planet which is wounded and disordered.
Yet even this, even sin and evil bespeaks what a Good God, what a loving and tender Father we have, what a merciful Jesus, what a tirelessly working within us Holy Spirit, a Trinity of Love, Life, and Mercy.
When people speak with me in sheer horror, frustration, anger, pain about some personal or collective tragedy or evil and ask the “Why doesn’t God……?” question my heart aches – God doesn’t destroy houses/lives within tornado alley or on flood plains – we build in these places; God doesn’t kill women and children in Syria or Iraq – evil human beings bent on power and distorting religion to justify, in a word to embrace the evil of lie and dark rationalization to suit their own purposes, they do those horrible things.
God has set Himself a self-imposed limit on His direct intervention [outside of His exercising His love through miracles such as parting of the seas, healing of the sick, etc.] in the reality of daily life: my life, the life of the entire human family, and this limit He has set is His gift to us of freedom, most commonly expressed as free will.
Without this gift of freedom/free will, without the freedom and ability to choose lie over truth, hatred over love, darkness over light, death over life, we would be just divine pets or playthings and the One True Triune God would be nothing more than the latest occupant of Mount Olympus.
We have perfected a culture of blame and with such facility avoid responsibility, have made the notion of victim into a cult.
Of course when all else fails we can always choose to blame God.
Who has not heard some hormone crazed teenager scream how they never asked to be born!
What is crueler for a parent to hear?
Indeed what is crueler for God to hear?
St. John powerfully weaves together life and light as he teaches us the great truth v. 4: In Him was life, and the life was the light of man.
Light, the scientists tell us, is so powerful and enduring that many of the stars, the ‘light’ we see in the night sky, burned out eons ago, yet their light is not extinguished, thus we see them.
Sunsets and dawns, fireworks displays, coloured lights illuminating fountains, light of a television or computer screen, these and so many other forms of light literally illuminate our lives, bring us experience of joy, wonderment, beauty, in this modern era communication, connection.
During the war blackouts were an attempt to protect cities, people, in the, albeit mostly vain, hope the absence of observable light would make it more difficult for the bombers.
In our day night-vision scopes and other technologies and weaponry virtually assure the innocents have no place to hide in times of war and civil unrest.
Indeed the misuse of light which can enable seeing into the womb increasingly means children are aborted because of some defect or even being female – for we have reduced the human person at their most vulnerable stage to yet another mere object.
In a word even while using a form of light we are choosing darkness and while observing a beginning life are choosing death.
Once I was called to a neonate unit to baptize a newborn who was not expected to live as he was just over the size and age of viability outside the womb by mere ounces – so fragile I could only use tiny drops of water on my [no irony here] baby finger as I held him, literally, in the palm of my hand.
I have carved you on the palm of My hand [Is.49:16] is how intimately He keeps us close.
How tragic then the following words from the Holy Gospel in verse 5: And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Flick on a light in dark room and the dark vanishes.
It is too weak to withstand brightness.
Stand in a dark room, light a match and immediately there is a circle of light around which the darkness is held at bay and cannot penetrate.
Darkness is absence.
Light is presence.
The evil all around us is the choice of people to replace the light of life within their own hearts and souls with the satanic darkness of death.
The Psalmist tells us [36:9] Yes, with You is the fountain of life, by Your light we see the light.
Suddenly I am experiencing an urgent need to go out into this brilliantly sunlit winter’s day where the snow magnifies the light!
So I will end here with this quote from Robert D. Pelton on light from his book, CIRCLING THE SUN: “Light. Light everywhere: light falling, finer than the haze of damp particles that my brother used to call ‘flea rain,’ finer than the air we invisibly breathe, finer than a saint’s heart. Light rising, more subtle and urgent than fire, denser than the night of interstellar spaces, more implacable in its kindness than that inner night we know as dread. Light: the whole universe breathes light because it is the indivisible syllable of Light that from the beginning has spoken the universe itself into life. Light: more ordinary than air, a synonym for blood, the secret face of love.”