Monday, September 24, 2012

Real Stuff

I don't want to annoy you by referring again to Kh. Krista West, but her latest pod cast on "Real Stuff" is, as far as I am concerned, the Real Stuff.  The talk is only 17 minutes long, and is worth the listen.

Kh. Krista talks about the importance of real things: real wood, real stone, real pottery: real stuff made by real people, not mass produced.  Real stuff made by real people for a real purpose is expensive, and the Church is full of it.  Wooden icons, bees wax candles, vestments made from wool and cotton, and brass or silver Altar hardware (for lack of a better word) all covered in real gold.  The Church is a real place.  Plastic and other forms of imitation materials are shunned.  

However, more than just material, the teaching of the Church is real.  And here it will start to get uncomfortable.  We don't want to face the real.  We would rather live on in our delusions, in our theories, in our explanations as to why it is not my fault.  We don't want to accept that we are sinners.  

Sure, we will say the words: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner.  So long as were are general sinners, members of a category, we freely acknowledged our state as sinners.  But when it comes to specifics, ah, there's another matter.  We have the specifics covered, we have an excuse, a reason, a theory.  We cannot find the courage and strength merely to say I was wrong.  I sinned.  I hurt someone, someone I love and there is no way I can fix it.  God heals everything, but I can't fix it.

I think part of the reason why it is hard to face reality is that reality doesn't fit in our mind.  We have in our mind ideas and interpretations, theories and understandings that--if we indeed have failed--are not valid, not true.  And the pain in this is not so much that we are wrong (although that may be a large source of pain for some), but that we have no other ideas, interpretations, theories or understandings to replace to old ones with.  We are left not knowing what to think.  And not knowing is the greatest suffering, it is a kind of dark night of the soul.

I think God forces us to confront our sins and failures, thus smashing the idols of our ideologies and theories, in order that we might come to know what's real.  And what's real doesn't fit into theories, ideologies or principles.  What's real is God Himself.  What's real is life in the Holy Spirit.  But to know this, to learn to live in the Holy Spirit, we have first to let go of our idols.  And sometimes, if we have trouble letting go, the idols of our mind have to be smashed.  And it's painful, even frightening, because we have depended on them for so long and we do not know what will replace them.

Like the Children of Israel, God calls us to leave the comfortable slavery of our justifications and our understandings and to cross the Red Sea to wander in the desert of not knowing, journeying to the Promised Land, to the heavenly Jerusalem, where we will know as we are known.  This not knowing, this unknowing, is reality: the reality of a Kingdom that is already and not yet.

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