Now You See It . . . Now You Don't
I was thinking today about how easily something can become nothing. Materially I mean -- those things that we value so much on this earth -- such as our homes, clothes, jewelry, electronics, people, jobs, and even our own bodies. This is, of course, only natural. We are surrounded by things that we can feel, taste, touch, hear, etc. They are reminders of our material existence, and they are within our physical reach, so we place a high value on them. It's all too easy because it's right there in front of us for the taking -- kind of like the opposite of the old adage: "Out of sight, out of mind." Usually it's more like: "Close in sight and close in mind." But these things that are in our sight can be taken from us in an instant. Where then do we turn?
This came to my mind as a number of friends recently called me quite upset about the transfer of several local, beloved priests. They are physical reminders of God's presence, and they act "In Persona Christi," so it's only natural that people are drawn to them. We all want a piece of God -- a living, tangible, earthly piece of an otherwise invisible God whom we so desperately need. A God who loves us, consoles us, corrects us, blesses us, graces us with countless gifts, and who will never leave us. We reach out in so many childlike ways grasping desperately to fill this void. And when someone (or something) seems to quench that insatiable thirst, we cling to it and are temporarily satisfied. We think we have found the missing piece. We are safe.
Then suddenly the physical reminder disappears, or the thing that we are using to fill the thirst no longer quenches, and we are once again left in our own desperation. This is a frightening and lonely place that we prefer to run from -- to the arms of another person, place, or thing so that we don't have to sit there in our own nothingness. Please, someone, something, fill this void! The discomfort, the pain, the emptiness, loneliness -- the awareness of my complete and utter powerlessness is all too real. I must regain control. I must feel safe, secure, surrounded by people, places, and things that will subdue this awareness. But this awareness is exactly the gift in these moments.
Here in this place of fear and uncertainty is a gift. We can't purchase this gift; it's not advertised on television; we rarely even hear of it. We can't see it, smell it, touch it, taste it or hear it (not physically anyway), so we might not trust it. How can this thing which isn't a tangible thing do anything at all to quench my earthly body? How can it hold me, comfort me, counsel, feed me, etc.? Most of us cannot sit there long enough to discover that it absolutely can and does, and "it" has a name and is more real than anything or anyone we could ever come into contact with on earth. He is eternal. He is omnipotent.
True joy and freedom come when we stop running from ourselves -- when we release those material things which give us a false sense of security. It is when we surrender people, places, and things and enter into ourselves that we discover the one and only reality that will never leave us. If we lose all those people and things around us, and even our own physical abilities -- our arms and legs -- He will still remain. We are safer than we could ever imagine, if we only stop running.
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