Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The Tsunami of a Temporal Only Life
Several hundred years ago, a man of uncommon common sense spoke these words:
“These are the times that try men’s souls.” That man was the inimitable Thomas Paine, pot stirrer of the American Revolution, brave patriot and visionary. He spoke of his time, but all times can borrow his famous moniker. Every age has its burdens, its trials and its agonies. As does every life. History is often a macrocosm of the individuals who occupy its artificial barriers of time. Artificial in the sense that there are really only two realities: the temporal and the eternal. While we spin around on this green and blue top through the linear experience we are having, it would do us well to remember we are actually spiritual beings. I’ve been reminded of those two worlds so many times in these past days that I felt a burning urgency to share my sentiments with my fellow pilgrims. And those not on the pilgrim road. And anyone who is engaged in this present darkness, feeling the prick of life’s brevity and the merciful demands of the Great One to “Look up, for your redemption draweth nigh…”
The earthquake in
does not mean the world is ending tomorrow. But it sure as heck could! I mean, end tomorrow. The message of that Pacific island is crystal clear to me: Your comfortable world, the one you see and touch and interact with every day, can come crashing down in 10 seconds. If you find your meaning and purpose in this momentary life alone, you are bound for a gigantic fall. Japan
I feel absolutely frustrated that I can do very little in the physical realm for the people of
. I mean, these folks had our way of life one day, and BOOM, they are rocked back to the 18th century in a split second. Crisis is afoot everywhere. It disturbs. It horrifies. It breaks the heart. But is serves, man, does it serve. “WAKE UP PEOPLE!”, the quaking earth and the roaring seas proclaim. “This fallen world is not your home, you’re only passing through!” How dreadful, how much more terrible than even the disaster of Japan, is to occupy material space for 70 or 80 years, thinking life is about one thing, and finding out in the end it was about something else entirely. That would be a cosmic meltdown for the human soul more grievous than any nuclear nightmare. Japan
The good news, the great news is of course that God has not left us to wander these shipwrecked shores. We have (I, the greatest offender!), done every manner of wrong against His eternal kindness, have cared first for ourselves, have placed our maker in a small corner to pull out when convenient, or ignored Him altogether. He has been the object of intellectual scorn. He who provides the very air we breathe is railed against as an unfair and uncaring power, despite the fact that common sense scrutiny of the scriptures would disprove this. God is routinely blamed and questioned for all the world’s evils and dismissed as a joke in regard to its blessings. Despite all of this, He continues to call men to Himself in multiplied ways, not wanting any to perish in their small, selfish little world, but passionately calling all to come to the open spaces of knowing the One who loves them forever. He will not force. But He will press. And He will use the worst things a devastated world demonstrates to bring all the chicks into the nest.
How I long to live grounded in that eternal world every day! That real world, which lasts not 70 years, but long after all the suns have become black holes and this little revolving blue beauty has long since been made new. As much as the terrors and sorrows of the Japanese drama impact us to do earthly good (and may they do that!), let them also remind us of the vapor we are. All of us. So that everything we do on this earth has a piece of eternity wrapped within, that can never perish, spoil or fade.
I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite little books, “The Practice of the Presence of God” by a lame little lay monk by the name of Brother Lawrence. Whether he peeled potatoes in the kitchen, or took on errands for the brotherhood, every humble act he did for “the love of God”. I put this up over my sink and my desk at work:
“O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end, do Thou prosper me with Thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections.” ~Brother Lawrence
I hope you know I’m always talkin’ to myself first of all. Let’s let all the terrible things turn us to the true, beautiful, eternal things that can NEVER be shaken.
I love you folks. I really do.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,
P.S. Hurray for Peter the Great! You can now have this blog sent to your email if you like. Thanks for tuning in!