Monday, October 06, 2014

Full of darkness at one moment and full of light the next.

"Like the majority of humankind I don't know much about wholeness at first hand," writes Fredrick Buechner. "It is something that, at most -- like Abraham and Sarah and Moses and the rest of them -- I have every once in a while seen and greeted from afar, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews puts it, but that is about all. I like to believe that in a disorganized way it is what I am journeying toward, but the most I have to show for my pains is an occasional glimpse of it in certain people who had clay feet more or less like the rest of us but who struck me as being at least a good deal wholer than I have ever managed to become myself."

"...To be whole, I think, means among other things that you see the world whole." Having told stories about his grandmother Naya, one of the people in whom he had seen something more like wholeness, he explains, "She saw both the light and the dark of what the world was offering her and was not split in two by them. She was whole in herself and she saw the world whole.

"The world floods in on all of us. The world can be kind, and it can be cruel. It can be beautiful, and it can be appalling. It can give us good reason to hope and good reason to give up all hope. It can strengthen our faith in a loving God, and it can decimate our faith. In our lives in the world, the temptation is always to go where the world takes us, to drift with whatever current happens to be running strongest. When good things happen, we rise to heaven; when bad things happen, we descend to hell. When the world strikes out at us, we strike back, and when one way or another the world blesses us, our spirits soar. I know this to be true of no one as well as I know it to be true of myusself. I know how just the weather can affect my whole state of mind for good or ill, how just getting stuck in a traffic jam can ruin an afternoon that in every other way is so beautiful that it dazzles the heart. We are in constant danger of being not actors in the drama of our own lives but reactors. The fragmentary nature of our experience shatters us into fragments. Instead of being whole, most of the time we are in pieces, and we see the world in pieces, full of darkness at one moment and full of light the next.

"It is in Jesus, of course, and in the people whose lives have been deeply touched by Jesus, and in ourselves at those moments when we also are deeply touched by him, that we see another way of being human which is the way of wholeness. When we glimpse that wholeness in others, we recognize it immediately for what it is, and the reason we recognize it, I believe, is that no matter how much the world shatters us to pieces, we carry inside us a vision of wholeness that we sense is our true home and that beckons to us.

"...All his life long, wherever Jesus looked, he saw the world not in terms simply of its brokenness -- a patchwork of light and dark calling forth in us now our light, now our dark -- but in terms of the ultimate mystery of God's presence buried in it like a treasure buried in a field."

Source: Essay "The Journey Toward Wholeness" in the book, The Longing for Home, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996.

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