Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"That Which We Are, We Are"

This is really no more personal than anything else I've posted, but it does not necessarily rise to the level of theological thought that I normally prefer. I do think we've all had such a moment, and I'd like to think that some perspective might even help one other person, and if that has been true in anything, whatever comes of a situation, I'd happily take that on for someone.

I love outdoor activities- hiking, biking, climbing, running, kayaking, horseback riding- the whole bit. In Colorado, I think they issue you several different pairs of shoes for each activity as a sort of kit when you're born. Anyhow, I've had an on-going problem with my knee that has kept me from some of these things, all of them at some points, and it's been very difficult to accept. After months of physical therapy, I have an appointment to see a orthopedic surgeon to find out what is really going on, and what my options really are. I've been very nervous about this because either, I get an answer that says it can be solved by a quick and fairly non-invasive surgery, or I get an answer that says it's not necessary because there's no damage, and more therapy is the best way going forward. Either answer is good, and either answer is not my preference. Either way, my anxiety about the whole thing caught up with me, and I wasn't sure what to do.

That's the moment I saw this, my son's religion (and handwriting) homework from school:


It was one of those providential moments when you can't help but stop and meditate, savor the beauty of God's love, whatever the situation. In that moment, it occurred to me that, in any case, nothing can actually cause me to cease be-ing myself; I am myself. The outcome may mean I express that differently, and that may mean I have to abandon some of my old interests, but I've seen worse things from which people came back to a perfectly normal life. We can only wait and see. In the meantime, I was also reminded of two other wise words, one even inspired, which shed light on moments like these. The first was actually something I had heard and loved years ago, but which was sent to me by a friend only yesterday in a moment of levity,

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though 
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

"Ulysses", Lord Alfred Tennyson

Whatever we do not die to, release from our grasp, give up to sacrifice, we will never receive in return. Rather, it will be stolen away from us, taken, and given to "the one who has much."
What I do not know is what will happen today; what I do know is that I am known today, and that is enough for today.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, not angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39

So we cannot know what any day will bring, nor can we know if we will live to see that day. What we can know is that there is nothing so insurmountable that we cannot conquer it with love, both for those who can benefit from our wisdom and even misfortune, but also for God Himself, who gently accepts our sufferings, anxieties, and sacrifices to be united with Christ's own Passion, giving them a sanctifying power, which cannot be taken away, "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10a).