Friday, October 24, 2014
What Is God Saying?
The weekly class assignment includes meditating and contemplating on an assigned Scripture passage each day. The first day this week was the above chapter from Genesis, which tells of God asking Abraham to travel to a place and then to sacrifice to God his only son, Isaac.
I read the passage and saw the oft-referenced imagery to God’s later sacrificing of His only Son, Jesus. I even noticed the similar use of numbers, the two servants who traveled with Abraham (ref the two Good Thieves of the cross?), and the three days journey (ref the three days in the tomb?). I read the passage a second time, looking for any further insights, but in reading it again I had a “is that all there is?” feeling ---- I perceived no great new insights here. Oh well, I thought, some days prayer is like that.
The next evening, when I looked for the assigned Scripture passage to read, I found the word “Repetition” indicated --- read it again. Uh-oh, it was to be another some-ol’, same-ol’ night, but I dutifully took the time and re-read that passage from Genesis. Blank. Nada. Nothing. Been-there, done-that, heard-that. Same-ol’, same-ol’. All Scripture reading is good, but apparently this one had nothing to say to me.
Or so I thought, but God had other plans.
The next morning as I spent time with my morning prayers, the Genesis passage came back to me --- and I found myself walking in Abraham’s shoes. He traveled for three days with his son Isaac, I suddenly realized, knowing all the while that he would soon be sacrificing him. What fear would fill my heart, what darkness, and what pain? And despite Abraham’s love of God, surely he must have been thinking (as I would): why? And then thinking further on that I perceived an answer: the answer must lie in the depths of Abraham’s love.
Real love trusts: it sees no fear; it sees no darkness; it sees no pain. It does not ask “why” in self-pity (for self-pity is the root of that question). Real love just trusts the other.
I saw my reactions to past difficult circumstances in my life. I saw my fears, my pains, my darkness, and my anger, and my asking: why? And I saw clearly my self-pity, for the real question I was asking was: why ME? I have walked many difficult roads, as Abraham did, but I saw rarely walked them with his firm love and trust in God, trust that this bad situation was for a good that I could not see.
And then I saw the related imagery of Abraham’s walk, of God the Father and Jesus in Their walk, with the two thieves, and the real death of the beloved Son on the cross, and then their three dark days. They foresaw what seemed a terrible thing (to us), but in them I saw no fear, no darkness, no spiritual pain, and perhaps most telling, no self-pity. They trusted all this was for a good reason; They trusted in Their love of us.
In our class we are studying the spirituality of St. Ignatius, and his rules for discerning spiritual feelings hidden in our emotions: is what we are feeling from God, or from evil spirits? It’s often a confusing thing to discern, and I find myself wishing there rules which could be simply applied to yield a definite yes or no answer, but there are none, because many of the questions I ask are only answered in due time, God’s timing, not mine.
And then it came to me: I have found this day some simple answers. Feelings of fear, darkness, pain, and anger: these feelings are always of the enemy, not of God. I can bet on it, and I can reject those feelings. And the same holds true for those feelings of self-pity. These are not feelings God wishes for me. All these feelings are encouraged by bad spirits, encouraging me to not trust, not love, the God who so loves me.
Later that morning I went to mass, and as the priest held the host in front of my eyes before placing it on my tongue, I clearly smelled the fragrance of roses, and I knew I had gotten the message God wished me to perceive from that passage of Genesis.
In reading Scripture daily and contemplating on what God is saying, there is much to be learned, even from the same-ol’, same-ol’ words --- if we would just listen, and pray to hear.