People have short and long memories.
We must always remind ourselves of promises made, promise that should be kept. We must remind ourselves what God has done, what God has asked of us. Yet we hold on to images, joys, and bitterness—their identities and characters burrowed into our consciousness. It’s why things like journaling and poetry are so important—they’re ledgers of our promises, failures, victories, connections.
This is what you are and where you are today. These words help you remember why you’ve become what you are. You can always go back and see, at least a little. Come close to remembering right.
And when you go back, you can often see how uncertain you—and your guesswork decisions—were. We treat certainty like it’s a good, attainable thing when it’s more like a sickness. Where does certainty lead us in the end? We walk toward something we’re convinced is there, only to see its elusive tail slink away.
The business of finding one’s self, meaning, and identity and trusting to God the reconciliation of your disjointedness has little to do with being certain. We walk by faith and not by sight. When we find true faith, we find what we’re looking for: peace. Peace doesn’t mean resolution—it means abiding, acceptance, wisdom, love in the erratic disarray of incompleteness. Peace comes to push us toward something close to whole.
Rightness and wrongness—what so many people fixate upon—are just side items to being complete: we grow and change and evolve—move inward to shadowed country, spaces of stillness where silence can inhabit us, bring out the truths of the way we live and what we’re called to be, what we’re becoming. Actions to follow a calling can take on innumerable steps toward.
Our words are really about being, and being together, because creating together cultivates community. We’re all walking toward one another, not as strangers or aliens, but as brilliant vessels, tuning forks humming together, leaves on one tree, flickering.
We enter the community of God through the motions of our small lives—the motivations given by God, the callings we’re all trying to clarify.
Things that divide our communities are those things that move us from wholeness with one another, things not of God, polarizing blasts of chaos—things that divide, deconstruct, damage—these are the things opposite the Incarnation.
It isn’t a new idea to say that sin is ultimately violence, since it destroys the beauty of community in favor of satisfying the self—sin annihilates, never incarnates. Poetry can be an act of incarnation, of making God manifest in the world. The Prophets are examples to us—enacting language’s evocative calamity—so powerful is their message that they must speak in poems. Mary—the mother of Jesus—is another. She sings a song upon accepting God into her being. Her faith can only be rendered as poetry.
When something important must be said, poetry carries the emotional freight, exposes our evils as they are, champions grace, beauty, goodness, does justice to our experience and bears witness to what we are. Poetry helps us flesh out the details of what we're trying to become.
Calling always moves outside the self, even if it turns into the self. Think of the monastic life: men and women called to solitude—which is different than isolation—and acting outwardly in prayer and penitence for the world. These practices bring them together, and—even in separation from the daily grind of their world—connect them to the larger community of us, the community of believers.
So here we are at wholeness: things in the world that God so loved growing together, moving toward being complete together. Even God comes to live with us, turning into a child who would eventually grow to kill himself in a ultimate act of sacrificial creation.
It’s about wholeness for all of us—some of us will choose it now, others will choose it later. Each moment is another chance to live in God, to begin again. This is the life of answering God’s call: we try our best to choose wholeness, enact grace in the world. We live in such a way that the gap between God and creation is closed.
Reach out to see if you can feel a hand that’s waiting to touch your own.
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