Monday, October 17, 2011

I Cannot Leave Them Alone

Today is the anniversary of my friend’s death. Yes, I’m a bit depressed. I’m fighting it, but part of me wants to be depressed...for his sake and in solidarity with so many who are like him.

I have tasted that darkness, but I have been blessed with an enormous amount of help. I have been sustained, by good medicine, and by the great woman I married, by my family, by the tremendous power of prayer, by this unique Christian community in which I live as well as the pedagogy of Fr. Giussani and Fr. Carron and others who help form me to live as a human person, in a real way, in all these relationships.

I’m struggling today, remembering my friend. I'm trying to say to myself, "Take your mind off it. Take your mind off that feeling of lostness, that terrible emptiness that must have been there." But then another part of me keeps coming back to it because I don't want to leave him alone there. I’ve been in that place. I can’t just turn my back on him, and on the others who are lost.

But Jesus was with them in that lonely place. Jesus on the Cross went to every person, walked every person's road, "bridged the distance" to every person--especially those distances that people have created for themselves, willfully, by sin. My friend's distance was not willful; it was a suffering, an illness. There are deeper distances and greater lonelinesses that Jesus united Himself with, traveling the mysterious inner world of every human being, personally, in that "Mystical Night" that was The Cross.

None of us can say to God, "You don't understand what I'm going through!" He has been "with us" through all of it. The "three hours" of the Cross intersect with every human life. This shakes up our ideas about space and time (and theologians can try to understand the "how" of all this), but when we realize that God is Infinite Love, we should ask ourselves, "Wouldn't Infinite Love want to do this?"

Infinite Love loves. And He who is Infinite Love became man so that Love would be concrete, so that it would be inside the human life of each of us, so that it would reach us really and insert God's companionship with the human person inside of human history and human realities and human relationships and even human things and gestures and the material realities of the human world.

So why isn't everyone in heaven? Infinite Love doesn't force itself to be accepted. Infinite Love and Mercy and Forgiveness in the Person of Christ seeks the acceptance of the very freedom it created, the freedom that each of us possesses. We have the freedom to say "no". Or we have the freedom to let ourselves be loved and let that love empower us to receive it fully by loving in return.

This is our terrible and wonderful freedom. United with God and empowered by His grace, we share in the power of His love. We too become lovers, great lovers, in His likeness. But we have to let Him love us.

That's why prayer is so important. It opens our freedom to God. From the moment we begin to pray, truly, our freedom at least begins to loosen it's grip on that "NO" to God, and God is already entering in and beginning to change us.

So what is it in me that desires (even a little) to "be with" other persons in their suffering rather than to be "satisfied" in myself. Is that love?

Or is it just my own depression? Or--wow!--is it, somehow, both? God works through everything. God works through our weakness. He works especially through our weakness and our suffering, and the love with which we embrace it.

Is this love? Is it an embrace?

O Lord, shape me in this moment. Make me who You will me to be. I can’t figure myself out. I offer all this to You.