Saturday, September 1, 2018

to the father's breast

Overcoming evil with good does not often yield results in the short term, and it lacks all the special satisfactions of revenge.—Marilynne Robinson, “Memory”

The river reflects the city lights, and, for a flash, the white crack of lightning above the South Bend skyline. The eternal ducks perpetually paddle by the bank, and I take my seat above them, just a few yards from the boathouse—site of a late-night homicide, my friends inform me. The romance that inflects this river haven scarred by a macabre crime.

Throughout the rule of Benedict, the liturgy of the hours is called "The Work of God." It seems to be the response of the monks to God, to make what is unholy—simply another day of the week—a holy day.

It is a tragedy, I say over beers, that we fall in love with people are are miraculous. Who are dazzling, objectively, magnificently lovable, even in their flaws. And we spend our lives treating them just like they are other Others and we are the one massive Ego pitted against them. It's like taking Eucharist bread and turning it into breakfast toast. How absolutely not how human beings are supposed to operate. And what a lonely position: one lone self opposite a world.

Is perhaps Incarnation the work of a God whose world springs forth intimately from the heart of the divine? Creation is not a world vis-à-vis the God who made it, is it? Isn't nature somehow kin to grace? Is Incarnation the natural process of bringing what is other to be one's own self? Is this not the project of a creating God—to make what is good and beautiful, with the sole goal of collapsing the barriers that isolate beauty from Glory?

Is perhaps Incarnation the work of a God who is playing the long game and drawing us into the game as well?

As Benedict says, the work of God is not complete in six or seven days. It is not finished, really, with one cross and resurrection. The work of God, begun from before time, and crescendoing to one man's lifetime two thousand years ago, is our lives. It is taking our prayer out to the riverbank and to the swirling eddies of our own hearts and bringing all the false unholy corners of them into the light of God. So that Incarnation can reach to the very depths of hell within us, and conquer that ugliness in us with beauty.

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