Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stability amid Desolation and Consolation

"Whenever we undertake, carry out, and complete a good work, each of us has had the experience of feeling joy one time but not the next. One time we know how to seize such joy, and the next time we do not. We thus learn that knowing and enjoying do not spring from our own abilities but from God's Grace. In this way, we are healed of the pride of our own choices."


"Nothing plays a greater role in God's pedagogical art than the shift from one to the other extreme. No sooner have we learned something half-way and begun to grasp it than (oh, shock!) out of the warm bath and into the cold! This is meant to ensure that we do not settle into any situation but remain pliable, and to make us recognize that true insight does not come from what we have grasped but from ever- greater readiness and deeper obedience"


Grain of Wheat, p 109

“Those who run toward the Lord will never lack space… One who is climbing never stops, he moves from beginning to beginning, according to beginnings that never end.”

~Gregory of Nyssa
Theme of the National Diaconia in Chicago 2002
Freedom is the active and affective willingness...

Salvatore, a friend of mine — and yes, you may know him too! — has challenged Karen and me with stability: we need more stability in our lives. What is stability? It is the recognition that nothing can hinder our freedom, our active and affective willingness ... to see ... [the] encounter re-proposed in all your relationships. I can be at the base of the mountain confronted with my incapacity and yet embrace the desire to see Christ's face in such a way that it gets me moving. Or I could be at the top of the mountain and still desire more. For the base of every mountain is the remnant of the last one, as St. Gregory suggests in the quote above. At the Transfiguration, Peter said "Lord, let us build three booths" (alas, the wrong kind of stability). So, even the Transfiguration was the base of another mountain. Elsewhere Jesus exclaims: "For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed" (John 5:20, New Jerusalem Bible).


clairity said...

I am so grateful for this. It lifts my heart. More later, I hope.

Fred said...

all for you!

clairity said...

I am still a little speechless from this gift.

A number of things converged personally for me. First, my "lifestyle change" evened out my moods, so that my temptation is now more toward resignation than anger. That's an adjustment that requires new tools. Second, the kid-grandkid chaos ramped way up. That's not new, but it affects everything, even the ability to reflect. Then there is just the change of season, rainy weather, that natural damper.

Some elation, for me, is more psychological than essential. And desolation is not so dreary. The reality of dependence is something stable, as you put it so nicely. This sweet dependence can be more evident in weakness, as St. Paul said.

Fred said...

Some elation, for me, is more psychological than essential
I know that for me sometimes elation stops me more than fear, and that the only help is to accept it as a gift and try to keep moving: the ascesis of joy.

clairity said...

I will remember that: "ascesis of joy".