January 15, 2014

Brendan Liturgy Part X

“Return, your mission now is over. God who did call you here, now bids you go. Return in peace, then, to your native shore and tell the mighty secrets that you know. Seek your own isle – Christ’s newly bought domain which nature with an emerald pencil paints…”

Lemme get this straight…

You call me up, out of my comfortable, established life and send me out into the cold. “You will find me there”, you say. “I will be with you”, you say. And it’s true. Yes, it’s true. But I get beat up, torn down, and turned inside out many times. Fear, disappointment, heart-break, turmoil, flat-out evil. Yes – also wonder, joy and adventure…

Exhaustion…

Weariness…

Near-Death.

Then you say…”Ok. Come on back.  Bring all that back on in here. “

I’ve got to say: I’m a little pissed.

Now – I freely admit: You never said this adventure would lead to me settling in some new, exotic land. You never even implied it. I assumed it. No question, my bad. But you ARE omniscient. You knew I had made those assumptions. You knew the nature, the very details of my assumptions and you just let me wander down the primrose path chasing them like so many butterflies.

I’m pissed because my pride is wounded. Once again, my desire for glory and self-justification is exposed. And sneakily. The deep conviction that I must be become someone great, that I will receive accolades and attention has been exposed once again.

It would have been nice if that could be done privately, though. I feel like the nerdy prom date who is tricked into getting naked by the most popular girl at school with promises of sex, only to be suddenly exposed to everyone as an object of ridicule. Yes – it effectively reveals the broken desires in me – but at what cost?

Is there no other way?

I feel stupid. Immature. Ridiculous. But, seeing as how you’re God and everything – I guess it’s up to me to adapt to the truth as you have established it. But honestly, Father… I don’t like it today. Not one bit.

No point in dwelling here too long and adding to my embarrassment with more whining.

It seems like I’m stuck right here, and right now. This place – this “kind of life” is my Ireland. It’s the NOW and the HERE I am being called to. NOW-HERE.

Nowhere.

Ironic that only after I begin to long for an “elsewhere” that it is revealed I will stay in “now-here”.

Yet I know that “elsewhere” is and has always been just an illusion. But it is such a sweet illusion.

I am confronted today with the reality that as a people, we are leavers. We long to leave. We are drawn to it. People like me manufacture adventures, destinations and outcomes and then we leave the place we ARE in pursuit of this thing which MIGHT be.

In large part we engage in leaving for one reason: because we CAN.

150 years ago, there simply weren’t opportunities to leave. You were born, lived, worked, sought God, found Him or lost Him, grew old and died within walking distance of the same piece of land. The same people. The same climate. Not so anymore. It is possible to escape the now and here when it is oppressive, abusive, dangerous or dying. It is also possible to leave when you’re offended or even just bored.

As I prayed this morning, writing down name upon name upon name – I began to recognize a pattern of leaving. So many people have left. Some by way of the grave,  others by way of selfish pursuits, still others, in a tantrum. Many leave because the cost of repairing damage done in the “here and now” feels far too high – they dispose of that which is broken, and acquire a “new one”. It is the way of our people.

In 2014, we must  CHOOSE to stay.

Some of us must choose to return…even if the leaving and the journey were entirely internal.

After all, it takes patience, time and intimate familiarity to build things like:

“The School of Truth, The College of Saints, The Students Bower, The Hermit’s Calm Retreat, The Hospitable Hearth, The Shrine to which will wader Pilgrim’s feet.”

You can’t just pick that stuff up at Home Depot. They are hand-made with local materials over a life-time.

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