Friday, February 20, 2015

Something Has Happened

We are going to die.

Let's just take our human hearts and confront them with this stark fact.

Each of us has a heart, with all its aspirations and desires, hopes and persistence, all its wanting and not yet being satisfied. Where does death fit into the picture?

If any of us were given a choice between death and total fulfillment of the heart -- that elusive thing called happiness -- we know what we would choose.

We want permanent happiness.

But everyone who has ever lived has ended up dead, and so will each one of us. Still, my heart -- that stubborn thing -- insists on wanting and seeking permanent happiness. The whole world lures us with the promise of happiness. But it is as if we are trapped and cannot get there.

Either our hearts and the whole universe are a lie, or happiness does exist, but we cannot achieve it, we cannot find it. As Kafka said, "the destination exists but there is no road."

Is this the dilemma? "Unto dust you shall return" -- is this the final word on human existence?

Is it?

"No," says the human heart. In the midst of conflicting circumstances and no perceivable hope, the heart still expects happiness. And so we keep on going.

Why?

There is a whispering in the depths of every human heart. Something has happened. No living human being has entirely lost the memory of the echo of that secret: Something has happened. Already the heart is hiddenly drawn forth.

Something has happened.

The mystery of grace opens the heart to this hope. And the eyes that look upon reality and history discover the fact that confirms it: A man has risen from the dead. He has himself died and destroyed death for all of us, and in rising has glorified the dust. This fact is called Christianity.

It is not Christianity unless it is a fact. A myth about a dying and rising redeemer to comfort our sentiments or symbolize some vague afterlife is not Christianity. Nor is Christianity the story of an ethical teacher who died for his beliefs and left us a lasting inspiration.

Christianity is a fact: Happiness became a man.

"That-Mystery-For-Which-Our-Hearts-Have-Been-Made" has become a man -- a man who lived and died and rose from the dead.

And this man gathered other men around him and began of movement of life in history that continues to this day -- an identifiable movement of life that can be seen and heard and touched: the "Church," ekklesia, the "gathering," the community of people who adhere to him through space and time unto this very day.

We have entered upon a season of remembering, but also a season of hope. We are moving toward death. We are returning to dust. But something has happened to the dust. The dust has been transfigured by Glory.

The truth, the reality, the fact about the dust is that it has been changed: even as dust, even as weakness and disappointment, even as frustration, even as death, it has been changed. It has become the road to happiness because Happiness Himself has taken it as His own.

My dust. He has taken my dust as His very own.

And I seek to walk in silence, to focus, to withdraw from distraction, to sacrifice ordinary comforts in order to listen more carefully to that heart where the whispering continues: Something has happened. Something has happened. Something has happened.

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