Friday, November 1, 2013
You Don't Know Me!
How often have you said or thought those words, as another sought to give you counsel, admonition, or perhaps even pity? But you won’t hear of it, and you scream in reply: “You don’t know me!”
And they have no answer to your rant, for they don’t know you. And then the conversation stops. And somehow we think that the quiet is better. But it’s not; it just leaves us alone.
It is no great statement of wisdom to say that each of us is different. A mirror, our fingerprints, and even our name say it is so. While we may drive the same cars, live in similar homes, attend the same schools and churches, and perhaps even wear the same clothes, these are just visible signs of what we do, not who we are. Who we are is in our very being, totally unique like no other. No one can know us as we know ourselves. Our spirit is within us, unseen.
But I think we often forget, that unseen spirits can be understood, at least to some degree, by the visible signs they give us of their presence. That is how Jesus, a man, was a visible sign of God. The Church is that today, a visible sign of His presence. And we, visible members of that Church, in communion --- and meant to be in communion --- are His presence to each other.
“You don’t know me!” No, I don’t. But I can and do know signs you exhibit, sometimes in actions, sometimes in words, and sometimes I just “feel” your presence, your mood, even as I sometimes feel His. The trends of your life, the rhythms you display, I can see; I don’t really KNOW you, but I know some things about you because you show me, for no one can live a lie, but everyone lives what they believe: who they think they are, who they want to be. And I can see who you yearn to be.
I know that type of person, because it’s the type of person I also yearn to be.
In our despair, we know we crave something, we want something. Peace? Perhaps no more pain? Friends? Love? We want something that we cannot explain, nor can others explain to us: “You don’t know me.” Each of us differs in our bodies, we can see that, but that does NOT mean that we differ in our spiritual longings. We all desperately seek what we want, but the truth is that what all of our spirits are seeking, together, is NOT what we want, but what we want to be!
Augustine said it: “Since You created us for Yourself, our heart is restless until it finds repose in You.” We sometimes cry out in our anxiety to another: “You don’t know me,” but in truth we don’t know ourselves, since we are incomplete, and we have this yearning … This is what the Gospel calls poverty of spirit, this willingness, yearning, to reach out not to ourselves and what we want, but to Another. This is the purpose of the Church, a communion of bodies and spirits, each providing for another some part of what he yearns for, until the full completeness with God in heaven. We think of others, and sometimes even God, as judging us. But we forget what John explained (3:16-17): “For God sent His Son into the world, not to judge the world, but so that through Him the world might be saved.” We, as members of His Church, are not here to judge one another either.
Above the altar in my church hangs a large crucifix, and on the wall behind that are written these words: “I Thirst For You.” And in our very being, who we REALLY are, we thirst for Him, to be complete with Him..
One person’s attempt to be there for another, however fumbling and misspoken, is not an attempt to say: “I know you, and I can fix your yearnings,” but rather it is a statement expressing all of our yearnings, to be one in family with you and God --- for we all yearn, and we all pain. You don’t know us either, but we offer love, to you and to each other. It is as He taught us how to live.