LOOK HERE for recipes, quotes, music, books, environmental stewardship, faith, etc

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kingdom of Joy

I have allowed life to get far too busy this month. Not only have I neglected posting things here, but worse, I have allowed my vision to be colored by immediate circumstances.

Today I was deeply reminded of the right things, through 3 different readings.

First, a lovely poem by George Herbert

Thou that hast giv'n so much to me,
    Give one thing more, a gratefull heart.
    See how thy beggar works on thee
            By art.

    He makes thy gifts occasion more,
    And sayes, if he in this be crost,
    All thou hast giv'n him heretofore
            Is lost.

    But thou didst reckon, when at first
    Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
    What it would come to at the worst
            To save.

    Perpetuall knockings at thy doore,
    Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
    Gift upon gift, much would have more,
        And comes.

    This notwithstanding, thou wentst on,
    And didst allow us all our noise:
    Nay, thou hast made a sigh and grone
            Thy joyes.

    Not that thou hast not still above
    Much better tunes, than grones can make;
    But that these countrey-aires thy love
            Did take.

    Wherefore I crie, and crie again;
    And in no quiet canst thou be,
    Till I a thankfull heart obtain
            Of thee:

    Not thankfull, when it pleaseth me;
    As if thy blessings had spare dayes:
    But such a heart, whose pulse may be
            Thy praise.
    ... George Herbert (1593-1633)

As I allow myself to be overly burdened by the day-to-day, I "sigh and grone" too much. Thanks be to God that he “allows us all our noise” and receives our inadequate words. Bit by bit, mile by mile, year by year, I am trying to learn more about how to be grateful regardless of circumstances, purely because I know my Creator and Lord. I am relieved beyond words that He is patient with me in the meantime.

Next, from Henri Nouwen:
When Jesus speaks about the world, he is very realistic. He speaks about wars and revolutions, earthquakes, plagues and famines, persecution and imprisonment, betrayal, hatred and assassinations. There is no suggestion at all that these signs of the world’s darkness will ever be absent. But still, God’s joy can be ours in the midst of it all. It is the joy of belonging to the household of God whose love is stronger than death and who empowers us to be in the world while already belonging to the kingdom of joy. 

Again: I cannot let my circumstances govern my perspective. Knowledge of the Holy is more than enough. If I fix my focus on the eternal, on the "kingdom of joy," rather than the here and now, I will be rightly oriented.

Last, Mark 9 -- One of my favorite passages of scripture:

2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

Indeed, this describes me all too well. I always want to hide away, shut out the world's noise, and be comforted. Yet we cannot remain huddled up, away from the world, only focused on ourselves and what we want. We have been given the insight to know the fullness, in order to remain in the world and share such deeply good news with others.

Thus I am reminded to not get so swept up in my own busyness and to-do's that I lose sight of what matters. Instead, I hope to be a carrier of of hope, love and persistent kindness in a dark and confusing world, anticipating the kingdom of joy that awaits.

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with God. God walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.

C. S. Lewis, from Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer