Reclining at table

Jesus, we’re told, often “reclined at table,” with his disciples and with others. I wonder, do I ever ‘recline’ in the fullness of what this word might mean applied to Christ?

When I imagine Christ reclining, I see Him vulnerable, open, receptive, comfortable, resting. His feet are not under Him bearing the weight of His body, but outstretched. They are not ready to run or prepared to fight, but up and resting.

Similarly, His arms are not flexed and ready for action. He might be lying back on one or the other of them, using it for support.

How much more calm and prepared would our bodies be to receive nourishment, if we could recline, as our Lord did, trusting, relaxed, at peace, not only in our surroundings, but in our humanity.

Pray we are able to recline in peace knowing that our sins have been recognized and forgiven; our souls washed clean by His Blood.

Reclining at table

Jesus, we’re told, often “reclined at table,” with his disciples and with others. I wonder, do I ever ‘recline’ in the fullness of what this word might mean applied to Christ?

When I imagine Christ reclining, I see Him vulnerable, open, receptive, comfortable, resting. His feet are not under Him bearing the weight of His body, but outstretched. They are not ready to run or prepared to fight, but up and resting.

Similarly, His arms are not flexed and ready for action. He might be lying back on one or the other of them, using it for support.

How much more calm and prepared would our bodies be to receive nourishment, if we could recline, as our Lord did, trusting, relaxed, at peace, not only in our surroundings, but in our humanity.

Pray we are able to recline in peace knowing that our sins have been recognized and forgiven; our souls washed clean by His Blood.

Be a FROG – Fully Rely On God

FROG-Fully Rely On God

FROG-Fully Rely On God

Merton speaks today of  “paradox”…of wisdom manifest and yet hidden. He says

The words God utters are words full of silence, and they are bait to draw us into silence…If we hide the precepts of God’s wisdom in our heart — precepts of humility, meekness, charity, renunciation, faith, prayer — they themselves will hide us in God.

I can just barely relate to these words. I read them and I understand them intellectually (I think), but they kind of make my eyes glaze over.

I figure that Merton was at a different place on his journey than I am…further along, surely. And that these words, the concepts that they communicate, require a greater understanding that I have currently.

What they remind me of is the story of Martha and Mary when Jesus is visiting. Martha is busy cleaning and cooking, while Mary is sitting at His feet listening to Him, fully captured by His presence. Jesus told us that Mary has chosen the better part.

Luke 10:38-42 tells the story:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I’m still more like Martha than Mary. I’m still making preparations for Our Lord to live fully in me (Editor Angel: Probably suggesting that He direct everyone around me to do what I think they should be doing, too! …Ouch!).

I think it’s why peace rests beside me rather than within me. It’s why I still feel such excitement when I discover some lost aspect of my true self — the perfect self that God created — which I’ve bound up in fear or insecurity or bitterness over the years.

When I discover one of these nasty bits hiding in a back corner of my being, it’s like finding a tarnished piece of fine silver. I want to clean it up, polish it, find it’s original beauty. I want everything cleaned out and perfect for my Lord’s presence (Editor Angel: Fully relying on yourself still? What’s left for the Lord to perfect?).

What all my Martha-like busy-ness misses is that just as my close friends and family probably prefer my complete attention to my clean house, Our Father longs to just be with me. He wants me to rely totally on Him, to surrender to Him, to be cleansed and set free by the Light of His grace.

Hmmmm. What do you think? Are you putting off letting the Lord past the doorstep of your house until you’ve made everything perfect? Or, do you greet Him, invite Him into the mess of your life, and allow Him to help sort it…allow Him to shine His light on the you that He most wants you to become.

Peace Within, Peace Without

Finding our own selves — the unique and perfect selves that Our Father intended us to be — is necessary before we can participate successfully in community or in relationship with others. Merton says, in his meditation for Wednesday of the first week of Lent, that:

A man who is not at peace with himself necessarily projects his interior fighting into the society of those he lives with, and spreads a contagion of conflict all around him.

He goes on:

Even when he tries to do good to others his efforts are hopeless, since he does not know how to do good to himself.

In trying to make other people happy, Merton says,

he will overwhelm them with his own unhappiness.

I spent most of my early years thinking I had to please others…most especially my first husband (yes, I’m one of those divorced and remarried Catholic converts watching closely the church’s current discussion.)  I never viewed my need to please my husband so much as a product of my own insecurity or sense of unworthiness (although there was probably some of that). Rather, it always seemed to be more a product of the way I was raised.

I was taught that a wife’s main job was pleasing her husband and suborning her interests to his. It was just what women did. My mother modeled this behavior. My father expected it. My older sister fully embraced it.

By the time I came along though, women were just beginning to come into their own — in college, in the workplace, at home. In those early years of cognitive dissonance, I was a working professional during the day. Then at night, I’d bend myself in a pretzel trying to be whatever my husband wanted me to be.

“Oh, you want me to ask first for permission to go to lunch with friends from work? Okay, I can do that.”

“So I shouldn’t bother asking permission to go to lunch, if there are male co-workers going to lunch with us?” I guess I get that.

“You enjoy having a wife with an education. You just don’t want me to use it to have a career? Did I get that right?” Hmmmmm.

By the time we’d been together the better part of a decade, I’d so altered everything about myself to accommodate his expectations, that I no longer knew who I was. It was, to put it mildly, uncomfortable.

I’d become so bound up in being who I wasn’t, that there didn’t seem to be any room to move to a new understanding…any flexibility for us to unwind the snarl of do’s and don’t’s and why’s and wherefore’s.

I left.

But not before fulfilling Merton’s description of the person who’s “not at peace with himself.” He described him this way:

…he gets out of the work all that he put into it: his own confusion, his own disintegration, his own unhappiness.

All that was a long time ago now. I give thanks each day for God’s grace that has allowed me to re-collect much of the girl He intended me to be…the woman He intended me to become.

Amazingly though, I’m still finding corners of myself that got lost along the way. With His continued grace, peace and quiet may yet come to rest not just beside me, but within me.

I pray so.