Are we there yet?

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Week 2 Lent   Jer 17:5-10   Lk 8-15

Most unexpectedly, whilst driving on a country trip, a voice from the back seat enquired most sincerely…’are we there yet?‘  It seemed so strange – the adult asking what seemed a child-like question.  And clearly we were not there yet with still some way to go.

All our journeys are a little like that. We venture out upon the path, carrying our hopes and expectations.   But we walk in darkness really.  We don’t know the way. We must seek out light and guidance constantly.

We are always yearning for the being there – in that place of rest and solace; the place of promise and fulfillment. As St Augustine and others have remarked – our hearts restless till we find our God. If we are in familiar terrain for too long,  we fear we maybe  going nowhere or maybe we’re just bogged down.  Maybe we are circling in passivity and no longer on the path.

This is the being there we seek -being present to the now of our life  as we  follow Jesus with the Holy Spirit as our guide.  Ours is to remain and abide in simply being; a follower on the journey.

Gregory of Nyssa in the Life of Moses* tell us:”… someone who does not know the way cannot complete their journey safely in any other way than by following behind their guide. .. The one who follows will not turn aside from the right way if they always keeps the back of the leader in view.

For the one who moves to one side or brings themselves to face their guide assumes another direction for themselves than the one the guide shows them. Therefore, He says to the one who is led, ‘My face is not to be seen’ (Exod 33:23), that is “Do not face your guide.”

If the follower does so, their course will certainly be in the opposite direction, for good does not look good in the face but follows it….for what looks virtue in the face is evil.”

Discernment and companioning are gifts to each of us till we reach the end of our journey. We are simply following the way ahead to our own personal wholeness.   I am touched by the concluding retort  in “Everyone’s Way of the Cross” –

Christ speaks –       “I told you at the start, my other self,
my life was not complete until I crowned it by my death.
Your ‘way’ is not complete unless you crown it by your life.”


*Extract from Gregory of Nyssa, De Vita Moysis, ed. Herbert Musurillo-Gregory of Nyssa, Opera. vol.7 (1964) extract from The Life of Moses in Classics of WesternSpirituality. (NY. Paulist . 1978)  Paras 252-255
Everyone’s Way of the Cross, by Clarence Enzler. Ave Maria Press, Indiana.1986
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Gifted

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 Today’s Scriptures:  Lev 19:1-2, 11-18  Mat 25:31-46

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I was astounded…surprised… It was a gift to me that morning.  I saw this tiny flower   … as I passed.  It had stopped me in my tracks.  I hastened slowly. Like a flower in the desert it bloomed on a barren brick wall. Moved by its unexpected beauty I returned to take a photo.

To my greater surprise and delight, this young man chose to pose for me.

It became for me a moment of grace.  In some small way the flower was a precursor to a bigger experience.  It opened me to the wonder of that encounter.  The joy of the young man became my focus. He was quite unaware of the little flower and became the memorable gift.

We cannot be prepared for the unexpected; for those moments of inspiration or insight which come to us as gift.  No matter how much we may desire or seek after them, they are beyond our control …  they are gift given freely.

Something resounds deep in our spirit in these experiences. They remain with us as moments of being touched by the Other.  Often they prompt us or reorient our gaze or thought.

For people attuned in the arts this is the visitation of the creative spirit which imparts inspiration.

In Roman and Greek mythology, The Charites or Three Graces are daughters of the Gods,  known as benevolent spirits of giving and receiving – gracious in virtue, bestowing  beauty, wisdom and creative inspiration.  They were invoked particularly by artists, poets and musicians.

At various times, we all experience moments of grace –  bestowed on us as surprise from a source beyond us.   The experience is often marked by a spiritual recognition that this was “out of the ordinary”.

Often it is described as “suddenly”   or mysteriously,  and associated with an inner conviction of a truth or insight which is uniquely and personally significant. It may simply be a nuance or a word, but it resonates profoundly.

In some particular way grace finds us in a place of relative darkness and brings to us new light.  Grace is a light on our path to inspire us forward and leads us to new ways.

Whether we suppress them, forget them or cherish them, we are touched. Writers, artists and people of many cultures and faiths make space to wait upon the Spirit and become graciously receptive. They receive the gift and become instruments of the flow of grace.

Through contemplative spiritual direction individuals  revisit such experiences and prayerfully discern their personal meaning.  We grow slowly to recognize the spiritual presence and  foster an ongoing relationship with the Creator Spirit.


Suggested Reading:

“The God of Surprises”    Gerard Hughes.

Eerdmans Publishing Co.  2008