09 May 2018

But I've Never Been to Me.


+JMJ+

The 13th of 15 in a Series of Meditations on the 15 daily intentions offered by members of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity.
Wherein we pray for our our hearts, that the place where Christ abides in us with the Father and the Spirit may become the place where we live with the Holy Trinity in friendship. 
With this intention we turn a corner to a wider, mystical focus on salvation. Yes, all of the intentions have been directed towards salvation, but this one together with the next two (the final three of the series) are the the culmination of this journey, the capstone of the process.

The garden of Eden story will, perhaps, be familiar to readers. Adam and Eve, our first parents, blessed to live in Paradise by their creator, elect to follow their own consciences and so come to sin. In the very act of sinning they find themselves banished from Eden and exiled into a world where they have to work, know pain, and forever lament that they cannot get back to the Garden. Byzantine hymnody puts these words into Adam's mouth:
Adam sat opposite Paradise and, lamenting his nakedness, he wept: ‘Woe is me ! By evil deceit was I persuaded and robbed, and exiled far from glory. Woe is me ! Once naked in my simplicity, now I am in want. But, Paradise, no longer shall I enjoy your delight; no more shall I look upon the Lord my God and Maker, for I shall return to the earth whence I was taken. Merciful and compassionate Lord, I cry to you, ‘Have mercy on me who am fallen’.
In the tradition of Christian allegory, the departure from Eden is echoed for each of us in our exile from our true self. As we cannot know, apart from Christ, neither truth, nor peace, nor justice, neither can we know our very being to the core. In our heart - after Baptism - lives God himself. It might seem especially odd, since to our Protestant friends we have to "invite Jesus into our hearts", but for the Catholic and Orthodox reading, it is our hearts into which we cannot come and - like the Garden - God is inside, alone, calling for us in the cool of the evening. All of life becomes a process of alignment with the guidance of this inner garden; until at last, in the peace of Christ, we find the way clear to enter again into Eden.
Through eating Adam was cast out of Paradise. And so, as he sat in front of it, he wept, lamenting with a pitiful voice and saying, ‘Woe is me, what have I suffered, wretch that I am! I transgressed one commandment of the Master, and now I am deprived of every good thing. Most holy Paradise, planted because of me and shut because of Eve, pray to him who made you and fashioned me, that once more I be filled with your flowers.’

This prayer of ours is that the place where Christ abides - together with the Father and the Spirit - may become the place where we dwell with the Holy Trinity in friendship. We beg to enter into our own hearts. What can this mean?

I suffer from a pattern of anxiety attacks. I've never quite understood them. The oddest was when I got my first car. I still cannot understand how it is that folks leave a $15,000 thing alone in the parking lot at WalMart or on the street at night. I was never worried that it would get broken into as such, I just kept asking folks, "How do you do this not only every day, but all day, all the time?" And so it is that I have trouble leaving home, or leaving the office, or walking away from a meeting... etc. Is everything done? Is everything safe? Although I know not everyone deals with exactly this, I imagine (perhaps wrongly) that all of us have some portion of this pattern inside: our mind picks up an idea and will not let it go. Everything becomes a struggle to deal with anything other than that one thought. 

Our mind functions this way - especially the vocal part, the babbling part of the brain. It's not only a huge distraction from work, or relationships, or whatever;  it pulls us out and away from the inner Eden. We have to hush that part of the mind, still it, bring it into alignment with the peace that comes from God. In fact, we can be so distracted, that - looking inward - we think even our heart has become a troubled sea. We forget the sea is never fully troubled at its depth. It is still and calm down there even when the storms are raging above. We have to guard our peace, and to bring our babble-brain into our hearts to be stilled.

We cannot be ourselves, really, until we find our true self fully restored in God. We dance with a ghostly conception, a false self, which we try to "fix" or "heal" or "empower". We are tricked into not realizing this is a decoy, a golem constructed from wattle and ego. This decoy is not a devilish plot, don't get me wrong. We build this decoy, this idolon from the husks we find around. The demons only have to point us to it whispering words about rights and freedom. When we enter our hearts, finally, we can know the Trinity to be our only source, our salvation, and our ongoing sanctification. We can also begin to see in full light who we really are, what we really are. We can see and know this clearly, unobstructed by emotion, passion,  concerns, desires, and worries. God has especially said that those will take care of themselves so that we can fully rest in God's mercy, in God's love. The Eastern prayer here is, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. To the West we can turn and find, Jesus, I trust in you. 

Let this drawing closer to God in our hearts be the action of Communion. That as Christ dwells within us we may be drawn closer to him with each participation of the Mass, which is heaven on earth, the Garden of Eden again in full flower. Let us enter there into our heart and find God calling us home. Let us know him that we may know, finally, his plan for us and who we are. In this intention, let us open up to God who by grace is given to us and can never be taken away, but we can ignore him. Let us not.