Friday, August 14

more on religion

We like to think of ourselves as running with the band of merry men who wake up one day and find themselves freed of Religion. The attempt to explain leaves me more often tongue-tied and my hearers confused and perhaps concerned for my sanity. Thus, I leap at the opportunity to share C.S. Lewis' explanation, as I discovered it today, in The World's Last Night and Other Essays.

"The word religion is extremely rare in the New Testament or the writings of mystics. The reason is simple. Those attitudes and practises to which we give the collective name of religionare themselves concerned with religion hardly at all. To be religious is to have one's attention fixed on God and on one's neighbour in relation to God. Therefore, almost by definition, a religious man, or a man when he is being religious, is not thinking about religion; he hasn't the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a later moment) call his activity from outside."

~From Lilies that Fester

Saturday, August 1

Under the Shadow

My Mother loves to tell the story of a me as a little boy who, when going around the house with a black cloud over my head, would send me to my room until I could gain a better perspective on life. In other words, I was banished until I could cheer up. My response was to cry, yes, literally cry, "I AM happy now....I'm HAPPY now!" That little story is a cute anecdote, but perhaps the scary thing is that I am still that little boy. It is an interesting perspective on the redemptive work going on in our lives.

This summer has been full of new challenges for us: continuing to deal with raw emotions involved in loss, sorting through the emotions of potential gain, a profession that is demanding more than is human to give, and yet attempting to love not only each other through it all, but also learning to love our neighbor. Now, I am not trying to say that I have had a tougher time than anyone else. In fact, mine in many cases is most likely better. I have no doubt been blessed. But, that is not the point. The point is that as I look to the future, I cringe.

There is a very real part of me that wants to run, run back to where there is peace and life. Or at least where I think there is peace and life. We were designed to long for home, it was built in us as a reflection of God's desire to draw us near to Him. Yet, even our desires are fallen, and what we long for is nothing more than a shadow, a haunting apparition that lingers in our mind. If we really went back, it would not be the place we have in our minds. I want to run back to a hospital where I knew my son. I want to run back to Kansas where I met a life that I pray affects my own. I want to run home.

But here is the promise; a grand but terrible promise. Home is not behind us, it is ahead of us. It is waiting for us in the Shadows of the here, but not yet. We get glimpses of it sometimes around the corner, but always it alludes us. I wish that I could do as Jeremy Huggins has phrased, "sleep for home." But I can't. None of us really can. We have to run, walk, and sometimes slog our way through the Valley of the Shadow. Which, by the way, is not a one time thing you go through, it is the whole of life.

And so, I have no choice but to keep going, to keep running. But in my running, I pray that the run is not in vain, for I have been called to dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. And in my run I may still cry out, "I am happy now", but I will do so with the understanding that there is more than just my dear Mother listening to my cries and being a shelter to run to when I cheer up. But a Father whose Shadow I never leave, who guides our feet as we run, who accepts even our cries of desperate happiness, and will call us Home within the comforting confines of His Divine love.