Friday, December 08, 2006

Beauty and Brokeness

The Citadel deck at 7 a.m. today.

As Rod and I were walking the other day we talked about brokeness. The conversation had begun about fear and meandered it's way to brokeness. These conversations are not for the squeemish, for those without humor, or those in utter denial.

Now fear, with the exception of what is known as "the fear of the Lord" is really not such a good thing. In fact, if you were to sit down right now and take an inventory of all the mess that the human beings around you create my guess is FEAR will be at the very core of every situation. Anger comes from fear. War comes from fear. Distrust, selfishness, greed...etc...all fed by fear and more fear. That fear compounds and creates more violence, whether physical or spiritual.

The Way of Jesus is not about fear, though it is acknowledged at points as a reality (see the Garden of Gethsemane). It is the Way of faith, and hope and love. It is also the way of Beauty and the way of Brokeness.

I have been contemplating these things daily not because I want to, but because I have to. I can no more set them aside than I can suddenly be 4 feet tall.

Which brings us to Beauty, for I am haunted by that as well.

I have written elsewhere about what I call "the Redirected Vision". It's the beautiful reflection of God on all that is around us. It is in the bread and the wine. It is in the sunrise seen above, the cool air, the silent hawk descending, the waters that scrabble over stones and the flutter of the sparrows whose feet do not touch ground without the joy of God watching. It's in the scruff of the dog, the amazing eyes of your friend, it's in the apples with their crisp sweet bark and in the prayers of those who love. It's in candles, and stories and in language and art.

Religion teaches us to fear God, but the "fear of the Lord" is against religion and it is beautiful. The other is a door slamming shut; this is a door opening wide.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". Just imagine for a moment that what is being said is beautiful and not the least bit scary. Awe-inspiring? Yes. Scary? No.

Imagine that like all things which inspire awe of some kind it is beautiful...and is, in fact, what all those awe-inspiring things call Home.

Imagine that those moments you hold so dear are polaroids of something greater and larger and more real than the simple moments they depict.

Beauty and brokeness are at the core of the fear of the Lord, for this is a Lord so unlike the trite usage of that term. I cringe often when people speak of "the Lord" as if he was their dog and not their God (no offense to Sadie).

We need to read the Book of Revelation NOT so we have some idiotic roadmap to Armagedon, but because the Beauty of Christ is revealed there as both Lion and Lamb.

In our brokeness we sit by the side of the road with only a cup of cold water to give, and it is beautiful in it's simplicity. He loves that we give it away and tastes it every time we do.

To deny our brokeness is to live in fear, not faith, or hope, and certainly not love. To use Merton's term, we are going "further and further from the shore" in our ceaseless activities

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