PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

 

Digging deep (Divine therapy 2)


"In the Near East, centuries ago successive cultures built new cities on top of the last ones. for some reason, people didn't bother usig new space; they just burned down what was there when they defeated an enemy and built something new. The ruins of these ancient cities built one on top of the other are called "tells." The spiritual journey is like an archaeological dig through the various stages of our lives, from where we are not back through the midlife crisis, adult life, adolescence, puberty, early childhood, infancy. What happens if we allow that archaeological dig to continue? We feel that we are getting worse. But we are really not getting worse; we are just finding out how bad off we always were. That is enormous grace.

"From a vertical point of view, our conversion begins at the place we are now in our relationship to God. First, we clear off the brush, stones, and debris at the top of our interior "tell"). (Keating must be referring to the obvious sins, the superficial or easily notice faults.- A.J.) ...This initial period of conversion corresponds to the springtime of the spiritual life, when prayer is easy, and we have great energy in pursuing practices of self-denial, various forms of prayer, ministry, and other forms of social service. As we begin to trust God more, we enjoy a certain freedom from our vices and may often experience great satisfaction in our spiritual endeavours.

"When God decides we are ready, he invites us to a new level of self-knowledge. God withdraws the initial consolations of conversion, and we are plunged in darkness, spiritual dryness, and confusion. We think that God has abandoned us. Because we don't enjoy the same emotional experiences as before, we think that God must have departed for the next universe and couldn't care less about us. This is especially poignant for people who have felt rejection early in life; now they feel they have been rejected by God, and that is the ultimate rejection. The dark nights are especially tough on them. But if they can wait them out, they will be completely healed of their sense of rejection for good when they rediscover God at a deeper level of faith.

"Instead of going away, God simply moves downstairs, so to speak, and waits for us to come and join him. ...

...

"Here the great wisdom saying of Jesus comes to mind: 'He who seeks only himself brings himself to ruin, whereas he who brings himself to nothing for My sake discovers who he is' (Mt. 10:38)."


- Thomas Keating, The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation


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