Thoughts for a New Year - pt. 3: Haiti

How can I write anything right now... given what our brothers and sisters in Haiti are going through? Today we heard that 2 of our own Brothers in Port-au-Prince died when their community house collapsed. Another is badly injured. But we are not alone. Other congregations have lost whole communities, the seminary was brought to the ground burying a large number of seminarians, over 100 priests have also perished. But what of the laity, especially the poor? At least we in our congregation have a built-in support network of other communities within the congregation that kicks in at times like this. What of the tens of thousands?
At times like this, what can one say? Cheap platitudes make my skin crawl. All we can do is pray, and seek to suffer-with in com-passion.
But, re-reading what I wrote on that train journey in Brittany, I feel that it is actually appropriate to offer the final part of those thoughts right now. I hope you may see why...


...Though we betrayed God's gift to us by putting his Son to death, Jesus makes of that betrayal our way to wholeness, he who is the Way, the Truth and the Life...

The words of St. Augustine speak for the whole of creation when he says, "Lord, you are my heart's one desire and it won't rest till it rests in you." But that "rest" that he speaks of is not static motionlessness. It is rather an eternal outgoing, a perpetual emptying of self, so as to embrace the other - the trinitarian economy of love into which we are invited through our election as God's children. This is the expression of love, through the Holy Spirit, that God the Father has for the Son, and the Son has for the Father. Only in totally abandoning ourselves to the Father out of love ("Let your will, not mine be done...") can we find true happiness, true fulfilment, true peace, in restful communion with the Father and the Son - that rest which is being in the palm of God's hand so that he can make of me a gift to others, an offering of love held out to the world (chapter 17 of John's gospel). 

Out of the the total emptying of self comes total fulfilment, out of the acceptance of our brokenness comes the possibility of healing, out of the betrayal of Jesus (see "pt. 2" - a previous article) comes the possibility of communion, out of the grave comes new life, out of darkness comes light.

At this point I would like to offer a reflection written by my sister Mona which expresses what I am trying to say quite wonderfully:


Holy Silence

Advent — a coming, becoming
a waiting for.
hearing the nothing
that is already here.

But can you hear Nothing? Is silence a thing in itself or simply the absence of sound?
If a vacuum contains nothing how can it exist? Unless the Nothing is Something?
Is darkness just the absence of light?
Is death just the absence of life?

Do we simply pass from Something to Nothing?
But then, where does new life come from? Where does the Coming of God come from?
Do we assume the reality of Nothing because we have not seen beyond our own light, life, Something?

Does the Silence contain the Holy?
Perhaps the Silence is the Holy.


So, is the darkness, the brokenness, the silence, the betrayal... therefore a necessary passage to full union, to light, to wholeness? In the sense that this passage could be understood as the death that we must all face at some point, then, yes. Jesus died to show us that we need not fear the dark, the silence, the emptiness of death.

But what about those left behind by the ones who have "dared this grave passage" (Sir Michael Tippett, "A Child Of Our Time")? They are left in the brokenness of abandonment, of loneliness, of pain, yearning to be whole again, and it is up to us here and now to help them, to be God's presence in the world, to pick them up in tender hands, to hold them, to love them.

To conclude: this giving of self to God, for him to do with me as he will, needs to be renewed EACH DAY. It is never once-and-for-all, until we reach that day without end. If we can do this, then there is a chance we may achieve some glimpse here on earth of that divine union with God that awaits us all, and we may, God-willing, help others to do so too...

.. a taste of heaven.

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