Sunday, September 2, 2018

Lifting the Veil

A friend lamented how wrong everything feels, how hard it seems to be both online and in real life, to create genuine community, to make it last.  It was reasonable, there’d been a real rift, and then a death.  Everything hurt.  

When everything hurts, one of the first cries of the heart is why?  Why does it have to hurt?  Why does it have to be this way?   The desire for the good (any good) to last forever, is a hint of our desire for Heaven and communion with God. We don’t want the good book to end, the good lazy afternoon, the good meal.   We don’t want friendships to end, either by separation, fights or death.   We don’t want true endings of anything. Even our happy endings of stories indicate a longing for the infinite.  They lived happily ever after, which doesn’t imply they ever stopped living or ever stopped being happy.  

However, part of what makes this life good, is the knowledge that as good as life here is, and it is good, part of why it is good, is people do the hard work of making it so. Buses run on schedule, and the drivers look for the regulars, giving a smile.   People say, “Good morning.” on their walks with their dogs.  People ask for volunteers for whatever it is, and other people hear the call and say “yes.”   

Much of the every day fills with the not so great like bills and errands, commutes and housework, check-ups, and dishes and laundry.  We muddle through the unpleasant like leaks and trash cans, dirty diapers and arguments and extra pounds, but there’s also all the unhappy of the everyday to manage, like world news, disease, grave suffering, grave evil and death.  What makes all of the bad category of life both big and small bearable, is grace. 

Grace is how we live through ordinary time, making it something more than mere minutes watching the clothes go round, or seconds sitting through a Spotify ad.   It’s when we sing with the radio with our children, and when we apologize. It’s when we make their favorite meal, and when we do the dishes without grumbling.  Grace is rearranging the day to visit the sick, to go to adoration, or to help a person get their papers in order for school.   Grace is the sublimation of the self, for the good of another, by service, or by words, or by simple presence when things are hard, or things are important to someone. 

Grace is like the air.  We don’t see it, but it’s as necessary for life.  It makes life life, as opposed to mere existence.  All we need do, is walk down any street.  Smile at everyone, and someone’s face will lift, because someone smiled.  When we move to a new home, it feels alien and strange and continues to feel like an unbroken in shoe that pinches and hurts until we know some faces, until someone unbidden, sees us in the midst of the ordinary, and says, “Hi…and our name.”  It means we are no longer unknown, no longer alone, no longer in danger of not being noticed by the world around us.  Someone knows who we are, and genuinely enough to remember something of who we are, in remembering our name.   

This society needs to rediscover the joy of being a society, which involves being present, and interacting with each other for the pleasure of each other’s company.  It’s the quickest path to peace. It’s the quickest path to making all the unpleasantness we face every day, more bearable.  Grace is revealing God’s love by our everyday actions and words.  It is carrying the Eucharist by how we carry ourselves, to all who are hungry, all who thirst, all who ache, all who mourn, all who suffer, all who hurt.   We need to be deliberate friends with those online and in the real world, to be salt –making everything taste better, and light, chasing away the darkness, by merely being present.   A friend online wrote, “Grace is dark matter.”

Explaining that it makes up most of the universe, but is unseen.  Grace is veiled, until we cooperate with it.   We should spend our whole lives, doing all we can to lift the veil.   

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