Thursday, January 22, 2009

Questions of self, meaning, and how God saves us where we are

I have been mulling over something for a few weeks; in some ways this has been on my mind for months.

I am in my early thirties now; when I was in my earlier twenties I had many ideals. I would be creative, I would become an English professor, I would have something meaningful to say to others, I would be able to point to the Salvation of the World. Frankly that is what most people want, is it not? To have a meaningful life, to explain that life, to have others wish to emulate that life; that seems to be the point of many blogs or one of the points. To have a life worth living seems to mean to many to have a life worth copying.

Let me try to explain what I mean; or at least show you. How to show you though? Well perhaps it comes from family pressure to always be a ‘witness’ that is common enough in Protestant circles; and if Christ is who He is and I believe He is, then Christ is worth pointing others toward.

It could be that I had things turned around or that I currently have things turned around or both and later I (with divine intervention) will get them straitened.

Here is where I am going towards – ideals and how one thought the world would work. I think I was simply wrong. Years ago I read a lot of books, tried to really work on inward growth. And somehow I have grown, at least in some ways. Though this past year has been such a challenge, I feel like many of the areas of growth I thought I had “covered” were unearthed, kicked around and open to the glaring sun of unfinished work, unfinished self and various inward confusions. Regardless of what may be happening now, I used to dream of having things “together”, becoming self-confident, self-assured, able to take on the world and be on top of things.

Now I wonder instead if that ideal was not at all what I was supposed to be going towards. Professionally it seems that this must be the ideal; I have a long way to go here. But personally and inwardly it seems that this ideal must be shed. But I am not sure now or what is to take its place.

Here is an example of what I am seeking to explain – in the fall a lady I know, a priest I respect and I read through an article by Philip Sherrard. We read it over the course of two or three weeks and discussed it. The article, from what I remember, explained how centuries ago it was possible to flee the world and not be part of the world’s destruction. His article went on to discuss how this was no longer possible. We are now too ensnared and entangled to not participate in the destruction of the world. Environmentally it is impossible – we fly in planes, ride in cars and buses, use computers, use electricity. No matter how hard one may try to reduce one’s “carbon footprint”, etc. we cannot fully do it. We may try to flee the world, shouting that we are against big business. But without big business the computer you are reading this on and the one I am using would not be here.

Sherrard’s only answer to this was the liturgy; that the only life-giving moment that can change anything is Christ’s Eucharist.

And Sherrard acknowledged that even the celebration of Communion is often tainted now, even within the Orthodox Church. His article was not easy reading.

It seems like the only answer though. Christ’s blood shed and partaken by us, who often are more dead than alive or mere shells of what we were made to be.

For the rest of it, I am not sure what to think. A lot of it was faulty advertising that I fell for. Not that I do not have thousands and thousands of things to be thankful for; I have a job, housing, nice things, a family and options. Perhaps I should read more Walker Percy; his novels articulate the realization of human’s brokenness and a sense that there should be or is more to life than what we often have.

Sometimes we just have to wait, hope and stand silent, asking the God who we have seen, touched and heard to have mercy on us.


Victoria said...

wow. what a thought provoking post. thank you for taking the time to articulate that.
when I have time to read more (aren't I always saying that?), sherrard is another author I would like to delve into.
thanks for this.

elizabeth said...

thanks very much V. you are always such an encouragment. Sherrard is one hard author to read; very dense. I need a lot of energy to read him, though when this essay was read together, with the help of the gentle wise priest, it was not as hard. :)

I do not know how well I wrote this post, as one I still am sick with a head cold and two I am still figuring out what I think on some of these things. but I am at peace with it a little more, which is good...

E Helena E said...

Yes, there is much food for thought here. I read your post over a number of times and still want to come back to it and to see where you go with it, because there are several off-shoots to it. Understand very well about the pressure of "witnessing"; have experienced this also greatly in my Protestant past.
Also re-examining and redefining aspirations and seeing how radically different they are now. There is a "poverty" to them now. An ongoing theme to learn what is really important... Thank you for this. (Am not familiar with either author).

E Helena E said...

Hope you are less stuffed up and the sinus pain is going/gone!
(I meant to add!)
Prayers for a restful, peaceful day.

elizabeth said...

thank you E-H. Yes, I am aware that I cover a lot of things in this post. It is a challenge to think about, not to mention write about.

Walker Percy was a Sourthern writer - Catholic I think - I recommend his Lost in the Cosmos: the last self-help book - I need to read him again

Phillip Sherrard is very dense read slowly writer. I have two of his books that are yet unfinished because of this.

I find myself drawn more to saints stories which can show us the same thing... or other things ... anyway; it all has a place! books on the shelf!

Meadowlark Days said...

Where have I been??? I'm so glad you shared this post. I've been struggling with how messed up our world is and how overstimulated we are by tv, video games, etc. Your reference to this essay helped - as did knowing that I am not alone in feeling this way. Thank you.

elizabeth said...

thanks K!