Friday, December 30, 2011

Mercy Is At Work

I'm looking over a year of work on this blog. I think of the possibility of working the "best of" this material into some kind of book. It probably should include pictures. A book about the family? I don't know. It's one thing to write in a blog, which is a living, interactive, developing reality. And the internet seems to straddle the world between my interiority and "what's out there" (even though that may be partly an illusion). But putting my family in a book between covers seems somehow different.

I don't want to put my young and growing teenagers into a literary box that would sit on shelves and stare at them and say, "This is you!" I am only now beginning to see the awakening of their freedom, and my concern is to point them in the direction of truth, goodness, and beauty. Would they feel constrained by a book about their childhood circulating around, even as they try to grow beyond those limits? A book being read by their friends' parents (or even by their friends)?

On the other hand, the kids are all hams and (right now at least) they all want to be written about. We are blessed. There is much goodness to share from our experience, in the midst of all the ordinary and some of the unusual trials that a family can have. It's something to pray about and consider, with my family.

Perhaps there is more than one book developing here. There are prayer poems and meditations, and I expect that if I gathered them together for a book I would find myself writing more. But I don't want people to be fooled by beautiful words into thinking that I understand anything about the mystery of prayer. Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite, doing all this writing about God.

Like most "religious people," I have an inner Pharisee with whom I must struggle. It's especially hard for someone whose profession is teaching religion. It's natural to look for affirmation in the execution of one's profession, and to "feel good about one's self." But then one remembers that one is writing words about God. All of the elements that go into the average person's professional and social interaction, including all the hypocrisy, self-promotion, dissimulation, cunning and self-seeking...and it's all wrapped up in teaching and writing about God! This is a psychologically complicated fact of my life. I love the first places at banquets, and being called "rabbi"! Woe unto me!

What can I do other than throw myself upon the mercy of God? I have been given the gift of expressing myself. I know that words are straw, but there is a place for straw in life and the task of making straw has been given to me. I will make straw. There will be a new book of some kind next year.

For those of you who haven't read the current book, Never Give Up: My Life and God's Mercy, why not use that Amazon gift card and order a copy? It's straw, but people have found it useful and helpful. The baby Jesus laid on a bed of straw. Get some for your friends too. It's also available in Kindle. Here's the link:

Look at me. I'm selling my words about God (mixed in with hypocrisy and dissimulation and tilts that put me in the best possible light). I'm selling them for money. And don't be fooled by this humility routine (the inner Christian Pharisee loves when people recognize and admire his humility). Don't be fooled by me. I am a struggling, divided heart. I am a Scribe. It comes with the profession. "I see," I say, and therefore I am blind. Yet I am also the blind man in the process of being healed, of beginning to see His face.

I am a human being and I have met Jesus Christ. I express that humanity in words, inadequate words, sentimental, pietistic words; words that make it sound too easy, and that give me the false appearance of being "wise" as I toy with mysteries. All these words. All this straw. Use it for your bed. Throw it in your fire and be warmed. Let it dry up the damp ground under your feet. Find something in it.

From my own struggle, what I want you to see is that Mercy is at work. In all my efforts and words the great hope is that you might see His mercy. Because of Him, I have the audacity to hope that you might find it, even in me, in the midst of my many words.

Look for Him. Discover the beauty of His face. I know it's not as easy as it sounds. I know that. But still, He is here, and He is real.

Mercy is at work in the world, in me, and in you.