Monday, July 30, 2012

Heart Divided

 "When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant;  I was a brute beast before you" (Psalm 73:21-22). Its no wonder the Psalmist prayed "Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name" (Psalm 86:11). In Matthew 3:25, Jesus reminds us that "...if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.". The Apostle Paul also spoke of this battle between flesh & spirit in the infamous tongue twisting Romans 7:14-20. 

I've been thinking about how the Temple veil was rent in two on the day Jesus died. No longer was the Holy of Holies hidden. The barrier between God & man had effectively been breached, the rocks were split & tombs were opened. All of this happened under a cloak of darkness (Matthew 27:45-54) & it must've been a pretty terrifying day. I find it interesting that scripture takes pains to clarifiy that while tombs were opened, the people who were raised to life didn't actually emerge till after Jesus' resurrection.

When I set my eyes on the cross, that is, to follow Christ to it, darkness always seems to descend. And just when I think I've victoriously shuddered through my own last breath, the ground beneath me begins to shake & crack. (Here, of course, you should imagine some great, hidden pride welling up within me during my last living nano seconds. Afterall, I am now the epitome of humility, discipline & self-sacrifice. I will resurrect as a new creature in Christ...). After the ornate veil that separates my oh-so-pious heart from my unholy humanity is ripped in two, time passes & I "rise", to undoubtedly dwell as "one" with Christ. And then, something  comes crawling out of the tombs...

To quote MiracleMax in the Princess Bride: "It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do. What's that? Go through his clothes and look for loose change." Ba-dum-bum. But seriously, these things that have been "raised"  are only mostly dead. They look alive, but they're nothing but white washed tombs themselves, full of dead men's bones & they're headed for the temple (that is, me)... & my freshly exposed self. When these things slink in toward my "holy place", they're not coming to bow down before my awe-inspiring righteousness... They're coming to remind me of who I really am, of what lurks within. And that's when I realize I too am only mostly dead...

A house divided cannot stand... but apparently, I'm not quite as divided from my own flesh as I'd like to be. To my horror, my house actually stands quite firm & I find myself routinely divided against Christ instead. What do I have to live for? True love? Of Whom or what? Christ, or myself? And if He & I are divided, I can't possibly stand with Him... What can I do? For I do what I do not want to do...

"Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear,  forget your people and your father's house..." (Psalm 45:10). Ah.... Yeah. And slowly the realization comes that there's no real  power in me to die, to be raised or to raise the dead things in me. The rending of  my veil has done nothing but expose the death that still lurks in me. And yet Christ calls me to pilgrimage, to follow rather then feign death & "play house". He calls me to His Father's house & I hear its quite the journey...

There's a traditional Catholic image of placing one's self within Christ's wounds & hiding there. See: "Anima Christi".  Indeed, Jesus has exposed Himself that I might not only see His life, but be buried in His wounds (like a grain of wheat that must die to live). But it will not be I who lives, but Christ in me. This is the pilgrimage... to sink in, to hide in Christ, to live as He lives...  no longer mostly dead or slightly alive.


 

No comments:

Post a Comment