Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Journey Home

The following thoughts are a shortened and slightly revised version of a post from last year; Longing for Home. This week's quiet day gave me cause to revisit it.

In Passion for Pilgrimage: Notes for the Journey Home, Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, offers us these thoughts about Holy Week;

Holy Week is a time when I am given the opportunity to reflect on how my past infects and affects my present. There are memories that refuse to come to the surface. I catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of my eye. I know that they are there, but I don't always know what they are about, except that the pain issuing from them pushes me more and more into editing my life so that only the "good bits" show. I fool myself into thinking that I live only in the present and that the past has no effect on my life right now.
We shove down the pain, the fear, the doubts, and put on a happy face. Dwelling in the dark recesses of our hearts, these images from our past are allowed to ferment and slowly find other ways to manifest themselves, unless they are brought into the light, examined, and then either embraced or released. As William Auden once said:

We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And see our illusions die.
Self-examination can be difficult, and even frightening. It seems safer to just continue to respond to life; choosing this over that without a thought as to what drives our choices; what memories and images are stamped on our souls. But then, in the wee hours of the morning, we awaken to the feeling that something is missing, that something is not quite right. We feel that longing for the illusive "something more." We want to go home, but we have forgotten the way. Alan Jones suggests that walking through Holy Week is the way home; that Easter is our call to finally come home;

The memory that Holy Week seeks to revive is one that lies deep within everyone. It is the memory of our beginnings. It is the memory that enables us to remember the painful things of our past without despair. The Great Memory is simply this; God has fallen in love with you and wants you to come home! Our first memory is God's love for us, and it is this memory that has been buried and repressed. Your first memory (if only you could get back to it) is that of being God's joy and delight. Why is it difficult to remember the joy of our beginnings in the heart of God? I wonder if it has something to do with our unwillingness to face the fact of our limited future? Memory and hope are intimately related. Perhaps we cannot recall the love that brought us into being in the first place, because we cannot imagine a love strong enough to pull us through the gates of death. I refuse to remember, because I dare not hope. I refuse to remember and I dare not hope, because I am frightened and angry because I will have to change.
As Auden said, "We would rather be ruined than changed." That is certainly an option. We have a choice. We can hold on to our static illusions, or we can let them quietly die, and place our hope in the resurrection; in the new thing that God might be doing in our midst; the same God who is in love with us, and is constantly calling us home.


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