Sunday, February 24, 2013

one step enough for me

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Imagine we are in a strange district at night and are crossing fields unmarked by any path, but we have a guide. He asks no advice nor tells us of his plans. It is no use trying to look at maps, or question passers-by. That would not be tolerated by a guide who wants us to rely on him. 
So what can we do except trust him?
--Jean Pierre de Caussade

I used to wonder why Christ only took three Apostles up the mountain into the Transfiguration with Him. In all fairness, He should have really brought all twelve, I thought. Or really, why stop at the twelve? Why didn't all the crowds following him follow him up to the mountain?

A piece of the puzzle I was missing was brought to my attention last night. 
It's the cloud.
After the blinding, beautiful light of the Transfiguration, they are thrown into the shadowy cloud, in which they can see nothing.
And they were frightened.

It is frightening being stripped of sight.
Being blind--interiorly and exteriorly-- is torturous and stifling (hey there, Samson Agonistes).
If you've ever been stricken with being suddenly unsure of yourself, been blinded as to what you should do, who you are becoming, or where you are going, then you know the terror of the cloud.
But how do we find our way out of the cloud?
How do the apostles?
The cloud of course, always arrives for a reason.
Sometimes beautiful music seduces you so completely that you feel like you must close your eyes, to shut off any extraneous contact with the sensory world. So that the only thing filling your mind is the otherworldly sounds of melancholy oboes or delicate cellos. 
You have to close your eyes, lose your sight for a bit, so that you can see the music better. 

I think love is a bit like that sometimes.
That cloud must be an overwhelming experience of love, which is what the psalmist would describe as "love as a searing iron."
Not many hearts can stand up to searing irons. Maybe, that day, only those three small hearts could.
If you lose one sense, colloquial wisdom tells us that your other senses are sharpened. Maybe you have to lose your sight for a bit so that you can listen much better.
If you're enveloped in the cloud of unknowing, just like the Apostles, then you can hear the voice coming from beyond the cloud so much clearer.
And that, naturally, is what obedience is.
(From the Latin: obaudire; ob ="to"; audiere ="listen, hear.")
It is listening.
But listening is not simply hearing, it is hearing and responding.
Obedience, specifically, is the act of hearing and responding: yesyou know that I love you.


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