Tuesday, December 11, 2018

between glamor and a garret

It will take more than simple intercession to save what we have intentionally lost—or can you, dear friend, by the souls you also have harmed, the story you have already made, the life that you have lived before me—save me via proxy, petition us through loopholes around purgatory's pain?

Merton has provided me with an inordinate amount of comfort this autumn. For Merton demonstrates that even very, very good people can be very, very selfish.

Even in a monastery, you can decide to hurt others out of great, deep willfulness. Not just venial, quotidian decisions, but the monumental you know so much better than this stop yourself now before you go any farther decisions.

Even as you seek God above all else—only God, in fact—you can still choose yourself. Pathetic, for a saint.

I wish this were not so. I wish this were not so at all. Perhaps there are other, better (actual) saints I should turn to. Perhaps there are less scarred and selfish men and women who could send aid to one very self-absorbed soul.

Perhaps there are humble saints who do not have my prideful assumption that everyone will see the good person I truly am underneath it all and that I will get a free pass for being her. Perhaps there are men and women who could point out that actions are concrete and they build worlds. In fact, the world I'm living is made of them.

Actions are not imaginary actions of Concrete Actor Me on Imaginary Other People.

Actions are the real, objective reality made by my concrete self with and to and for and against the other concrete selves. Those others are one day, someone reminded me the other day—and I cannot remember if it was a book or a homily or a poster on a campus wall—the others who will people our heavens. Perhaps this is why the monastery is heaven on earth: it is populated with very real others.

Communities are like this—you can't escape the others who constitute them.

Perhaps this is why Merton found an escape in an other outside the monastery, someone who was still part of the shady reality of the world, this vale of tears which doesn't seem to quite matter. This vale of tears is still the realm of our ego, and we mostly act in the small and murky world of that—we don't really consider who else is out there. We are just buried in ourselves.

You can feel when you are with someone who is swallowed up in themselves. They clamor for you, they claw at you, trying to foist themselves out of the shadows and into something real, something concrete, something you have built together.

It is so easy to destroy something you build together. It is so easy to tear relationships, without the thought of: what will this take to mend?

Heavenly unity is our eschatological destination—Christ will not rest until he is all-in-all. If we are on board with this, then we are on board with Christ becoming the sole measure of all things, including ourselves—including our relationships.

We are so accustomed to wrestling with what in ourselves is askew from Christ: it is a daily conversion which seems to affect no one but ourselves. We pay the hidden costs of crucifixion in our hearts as we sear away all that is not God.

But when we deform and bend the Christ-shaped unity between us into something dark and broken, something that looks like shadow, not like light, then the cost of its salvation is so corporate and corporeal, even mystically. It is so painfully public. It, too, must be made new, made over, so that Christ will be all-in-all. So much energy of the divine economy must now be redirected to save it, too.

You have torn it. I have torn it. We have mangled it until it is unrecognizable, unreconcilable. Perhaps it, like many other souls, will not be saved this side of death. But, one day, it too will reach heaven, and—God, how long will it take to get it there? What will it cost us to heal what we have harmed?

No comments:

Post a Comment