“People would be surprised if they knew what the soul said to God sometimes.” – Brother Lawrence, a 17th century Carmelite friar
God does not flash into our lives to work a piece of magic upon us and then disappear. To do so would eradicate human dignity; it would prevent our participation. Instead, God’s grace is always present intimately within us, inviting and empowering us toward more full, more free exercise of will and responsibility. The more open and spacious our will and responsibility become, the more God and person commune in creative splendor.
Every liberation requires continued attention, every healing demands continued care, every deliverance demands follow-up and every conversion requires faithful deepening.
We are never simply visited with a healing or deliverance, which we can then safely forget. Grace is not a pill we are given or a method applied to us so that we can simply go on about our business. Grace always invites us forward. Every liberation requires continued attention, every healing demands continued care, every deliverance demands follow-up and every conversion requires faithful deepening. If we do not respond to these ongoing calls, if we deny our empowerments for continued growth in freedom and responsibility, our healings may well be stillborn. Then, as in Jesus’ words about evil spirits returning to a house swept clean, our last condition may turn out to be worse than our first.
Gerald May, Addiction and Grace
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
A breakdown is not merely a random piece of madness or malfunction; it is a very real — albeit very inarticulate — bid for health and self-knowledge. It is an attempt by one part of our mind to force the other into a process of growth, self-understanding and self-development that it has hitherto refused to undertake. If we can put it paradoxically, it is an attempt to jump-start a process of getting well — properly well — through a stage of falling very ill.
In the midst of a breakdown, we often wonder whether we have gone mad. We have not. We’re behaving oddly, no doubt, but beneath the agitation we are on a hidden yet logical search for health. We haven’t become ill; we were ill already. Our crisis, if we can get through it, is an attempt to dislodge us from a toxic status quo and constitutes an insistent call to rebuild our lives on a more authentic and sincere basis. It belongs, in the most acute and panicked way, to the search for self-knowledge.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
–C. G. Jung
The old voice of the ocean, the bird-chatter of little rivers,
(Winter has given them gold for silver
To stain their water and bladed green for brown to line their banks)
From different throats intone one language.
So I believe if we were strong enough to listen without
Divisions of desire and terror
To the storm of the sick nations, the rage of the hunger smitten cities,
Those voices also would be found
Clean as a child’s; or like some girl’s breathing who dances alone
By the ocean-shore, dreaming of lovers.
For this reason, the purest acts of faith always feel like risks. Instead of leading to absolute quietude and serenity, true spiritual growth is characterized by increasingly deep risk taking. Growth in faith means willingness to trust God more and more, not only in those areas of our lives where we are most successful, but also, and most significantly, at those levels where we are most vulnerable, wounded, and weak. It is where our personal power seems most de- feated that we are given the most profound opportunities to act in true faith. The purest faith is enacted when all we can choose is to relax our hands or clench them, to turn wordlessly toward or away from God. This tiny option, the faith Jesus measured as the size of a mustard seed, is where grace and the human spirit embrace in absolute perfection and explode in world-changing power.
Gerald May – from Addiction and Grace
If you want others to be more loving, choose to love first. If you want a reconciled outer world, reconcile your own inner world. If you are working for peace out there, create it inside as well. If you wish to find some outer stillness, find it within yourself. If you want to find God, then honor God within you, and you will always see God far beyond you, also. For it is only God in you who knows where and how to look for God. By ourselves, we are fairly blind.
– Richard Rohr