Friday, February 13, 2015

"Lost between tomorrow and yesterday"

It's amazing to me that another week has slipped by, but that's what time does- moves steadily along. It was the pre-Socratic Greek philospher Heraclitus who observed, according to Plato, "You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are continually flowing in." For our Friday traditio this week, the last Friday before Lent, we're shifting gears: The Kinks "Back Where We Started" is our traditio. Christians are fond of pointing out, "we live between the already and the not yet." We fervently long for the not yet. Despite Heraclitus' observation, life, even spiritual life, often seems repetitive. Jesus tells His followers: "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). Yet, like Lot's wife, we sometimes can't help ourselves.

I think this longing is a huge factor as to why so many people eagerly come to Church on Ash Wednesday. My prayer for each and every person who comes is, May God grant you what you seek. Of course, in the end, God is the fulfillment of our deepest longing. This is precisely why, in my view, God meets us where we're at and leads along our unique path to Himself. There is no predictability as to how God manifests Himself. Nobody has a "God matrix predictability tool," or "God alogorithm." Thanks be to God for that!

David Carr

All of this flows from the passing of New York Times columnist David Carr. I remember reading the series of articles he wrote about his several bouts with drug and alcohol addiction. He wrote those pieces in the hope of writing a book. Well, he wrote his book, The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own. It was published in 2009 and became a bestseller. The Washington Post this morning featured a wonderful article on Carr's "messy relationship" with faith (In truth, is there any other kind?), "How David Carr described his messy relationship with faith." In the article Carr is quoted as saying,
I’m a churchgoing Catholic, and I do that as a matter of, it’s good to stand with my family. It’s good that I didn’t have to come up with my own creation myth for my children. It’s a wonderful … community. It’s not really where I find God. The accommodation I’ve reached is a very jerry-rigged one, which is: All along the way, in recovery, I’ve been helped without getting into specifics of names, by all of these strangers who get in a room and do a form of group-talk therapy and live by certain rules in their life — and one of the rules is that you help everyone who needs help. And I think to myself: Well, that seems remarkable. Not only is that not a general human impulse, but it’s not an impulse of mine. And yet, I found myself doing that over and over again. Am I, underneath all things, just a really wonderful, giving person? Or is there a force greater than myself that is leading me to act in ways that are altruistic and not self-interested and lead to the greater good?

That’s sort of as far as I’ve gotten with the higher-power thing. I’m kind of a pirate, kind of a thug. I’ve done terrible things, and yet I’m for the most part able to be a decent person. … I think something else is working on me"
This brings me to the questions, Why The Kinks? Why "Back Where We Started?" For anyone in recovery this kind of honesty about things about yourself is crucial. Pretending will land you right back where you started, then you'll have to listen to The Kinks' "Back Where We Started," which, at least in, my view, is not such a bad thing. But then, sometimes people have a more direct encounter with God. This, too, in addition to being a great grace (where much is given, much is expected- Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel- use words if you must, etc), is a great mystery.

David Carr, requiscat in pace. May you no longer have to see as through a glass darkly as you experience the not yet right now.

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