Tag Archives: Identity

December 15th, 2009

In the Beatitudes, Jesus says the “pure will see God”. I always thought that meant those who behaved well. While good behavior would be a result of purity, it is not purity itself. How could I miss this for so long? Purity is a forsaking of junk that does not belong. It is a becoming; the concentration of an element. Something becomes more and more like itself, and less and less like other things. That’s a “pure” person, and to THAT person, God becomes visible.

I want to see God.

Alick says: Every man has something to refuse. Make a choice. Look ahead/count the cost/take action…and ask, “what will I  keep?”

Hebrews 11:24 “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”

The self-serving idea of growth, progress and achievement is so tangled up in my identity I can’t as yet untangle it from the “pure” motives of wanting to see the Kingdom of God established…for God’s sake. I want my name stamped on it. Being noticed, accomplishing something great for God is like my last name given by Pharaoh’s daughter. I don’t want to be known by that name.

I forsake the idea of growth for growth’s sake, (tumors should not grow) of progress because progress is always good (progress toward the edge of a cliff is not preferable) of bigger is better (bigger piles of stuff require more attention to be taken away from “pure” things)

Even spiritual “growth” is largely an impure concept.  But these are the words we use: Growth, Progress.

We should speak of purity.

Growth and progress necessarily require one to somehow close the net gap between creature and Creator…otherwise it’s not “progress”. But I don’t think that gap is meant to be closed. God’s essence is too much, too expansive. God is accelerating away from me. My job is not to catch up to him and there experience intimacy and purpose. It’s to become pure right where I am, because he is no less here than he is where he is going…and it is only HERE that I can become pure.

God will always be a scandal. The Buddhist saying is true (just insert “God” where it says “the Buddha”)

“If you meet  the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

Thomas Aquinas said it too: “If you comprehend God he is not God.” (The Buddhist said it better)

David said it well:

Psalm 131

A song of ascents. Of David.

1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

September 12th, 2009

Something is beginning to change. Something significant. A “big” move:

Glaciers calving

Volcanoes erupting

Comets passing by

Not just seasonal changes.

I’m different than I used to be. It has something to do with being older, yes, but it has more to do with having lost and still being left here. I was supposed to die earlier. The story is over, the cast and crew have left, but I’m still here ready to hit my mark and play my role.

I turn around and I realize I am the grown-up. I’m not playing the roles I was made to play anymore. I now choose my own roles.

There are still expectations though.

Chronology has some value: There’s some shit you just can’t know until you’ve been around for 45 years and people who have only been around 20 or 30 depend on you for that knowledge.

But it’s more than that.  There is an entire generation of absent men in front of me. Fathers, husbands, teachers and leaders who have abandoned their posts. They have failed those who were put in their charge. 2 or 3 generations of progress, affluence, plenty and self-focus have robbed people my age and younger of those who would teach us, serve us and show us the way.

There are a handful of men (all at least a little younger than me) who are explicitly expressing a father- need, and are asking me to fill it somehow. Perhaps it’s as simple as sharing the gift of MY father, the things he gave me, with those who didn’t get it. Perhaps it’s about being old enough to be seen as a father-figure and perhaps it’s about having some scars that indicate you have some experience worth sharing.

The old Native American tale of a man’s maturing charts the change from whirling, passionate but in-effective white horse in one’s third decade, to busy, effective but selfish red horse in the fourth decade, to powerful, slower moving and wise black horse in the fifth decade.

Qualities of a Black Horse (largely as taught by Alick):

The quality of the BLACK horse life is not based on what we acquire (expectations) but what we let go of.

The BLACK horse knows the living reality of the beatitudes: BLACK horses are living their purity, they have come to terms with sin (Prov. 28:13) they have moved beyond a simple, sin-based economy and so are capable of being  non-judgmental.

BLACK horses have done their forsaking.

I am forsaking my citizenship in the Modern World with it’s formulae and empty promises of peace and joy through achievement and “progress”. I’m also forsaking the Post-Modern World with it’s contempt for truth, and  it’s self-indulgence dressed up to look like “tolerance”.

I’m choosing to live in the margins. In a liminal space where there is MUCH to be forsaken.

One of the things I am increasingly willing to forsake: doctrine. Not “Capital D” doctrine meaning the things I know to be true, but small “d” doctrine meaning the IDEA that God can be placed inside a box that I can fully hold in my head.  So much effort, in so many religious and even non-religious contexts is spent on trying to get God surrounded and tamed; quantified and measured.

Some of that motive is noble, like a man truly in love who wants to study his woman, wants to KNOW her. But most of it is about control, about the need to be RIGHT instead the desire for truth.

I admire people who are willing to be wrong, and I’m learning that they can be trusted. I am less willing to place my trust and give my heart to those who always seem to find a way to come out on the winning side. Something important had to die to make that many “wins” possible. I’m beginning to suspect that “success” in our post-modern context is simply about being good at hiding the bodies.

…which leads me back to a BLACK horse forsakeable I mentioned earlier: Progress. Achievement. Bigness.  I haven’t found one word that describes exactly what I am willing to forsake here…but those words surround it. I’ve actually been walking down this road of forsaking for some time, but only recently recognized it as a road constructed by God. More on that later.