Tuesday, November 11, 2014

crisp cuts of moonlight

But it is Our Lady--and no other saint--whom we can really imitate. 
 All the canonized saints had special vocations, and special gifts for their fulfillment. 

 Each saint has his special work: one person’s work. But Our Lady had to include in her vocation, in her life’s work, the essential thing that was to be hidden in every other vocation, in every life. She is not only human; she is humanity. The one thing that she did and does is the one thing that we all have to do, namely, to bear Christ into the world.
--Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Our bearing Christ into the world is usually not very glamorous, and, the troubling thing is that it will not look like anyone else's bearing Christ into the world. We have been called to something unique and glorious, which is unlike anyone else's. But it is absolutely essential that we bear Christ into the little corner of the world that we inhabit.

For Christ wished to enter into every single human experience. Each one of them--none of them would be too small or insignificant for his human presence. To paraphrase Rowan Williams: "human life was thought by God to be worth dying for." Our lives are too precious to not become sacraments of Christ. Christ was physically and temporally limited in his human life to the confines of 1st century Palestine. In His Incarnation, He could not experience the hunger of the small Victorian waif, or the great exhaustion of the woman working in the factories, and the man fighting in the cold, muddy trenches. He could not experience the impatience of waiting for a train or the frustration of a run in your pantyhose. But, in our sufferings, we complete the sufferings of Christ. In our joys, we add to the Joy of the Resurrection.

God demands all of our lives. Not in a scary way, where suddenly we have no more life, because we have given it away. But in an infinitely more terrifying way: our lives matter, because God desires every single bit of them. There is no moment we can waste, saying that they are our own. A moment we can keep all to ourselves, waste, and throw away, because it does not matter. It matters. Every single inch of our lives matters, because it is desired by God. God yearns to reveal Himself to the world through each of us.

What should be the most comforting fact to us is often the most disconcerting and annoying. We are too content, to paraphrase another British theological wit, "too content with mudpies." Our desires are not too strong, but too weak. We wish that we were someone else; we wish that our lives were someone else's. We find that we cannot be content with our self. Surely, God cannot work with our perpetual awkwardness, with our timidity, with our insecurities, and our self-doubt. Surely, if we do not gloss over our faults, they will be too glaringly ugly to be sacraments of love. Surely, if only we had this gift or that talent, or could just manage to be more organized, then we could achieve sainthood.

But, perhaps that we are all that we are intended to be, and the only thing that is lacking is that we exit our shell of self-doubt, and offer what fragments of self we can pull together up as our offering of love. In exchange for the love poured out upon us, we return whatever we have created from that love.
Perhaps this is why Mary is the model for all Christian disciples. Because, we learn that it is not the audacity of Joan of Arc, the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, or the insanity of Francis that we need to be a saint. These are the particular gifts given to particular persons. All that is necessary for any of us in our vocations is to let all the parts of our selves that we would never deem worthy of being vehicles of grace become so. The great folly of Christianity is that it deems any part of nature, no matter how broken and ugly, as a possible conduit of grace.

And that great folly is our hope.

1 comment:

  1. "The great folly of Christianity is that it deems any part of nature, no matter how broken and ugly, as a possible conduit of grace."

    This. Yes. What a beautiful and timely reminder, thanks Renée!