Apr 172014

“Pray as if everything depended on God; work as if everything depended on you.”
This quote, said to originate with St. Augustine, points to the central struggle of a good life. To grow as responsible human beings we develop strengths and habits of doing. We express ourselves, project ourselves into the world, not only in speech but in everything we do. And it feels good.
It feels good to take that first step: Look at me! I can walk! That first word: Listen to me! I can talk!
And it feels bad. From the beginning our doing meets resistance and frustration and failure. If life is all about me and my doing, we quickly meet anti-life. We fall. We are introduced to fear and death.
Jesus felt it. “Let this cup pass from me,” he asked in his garden of agony, shaking with the pain of failure.
But that was only the first half of a movement completed as he prayed, “…not my will, but thine be done.”
Jesus had known and done everything. He had been filled with the creative power of God. Now he was experiencing the absence of everything. He didn’t fight it, didn’t resist. Rather, he accepted it, took it in, and absorbed this dying with his basic energy: his faith, hope and love: “Not my will, but . . . .”
And his transformation began. Going through this death he rose into new life.
Life is not, after all, about me and my doing; not altogether, not the full possibility of human life. We do everything we can to feed, protect, nurture and shape a child. In the end we realize that what we did best was not what we imposed on the child. Rather, it was how we accepted her or him, how we took the child in as gift rather than possession, and allowed another will to join in shaping our world.
This often doesn’t happen without some agony of frustration and sense of failure on our part. We realize how little control we really have. This allows an opening to God and reliance on fundamentals like faith, hope and love rather than a tattered ego.
It’s sometimes referred to as letting go and letting God. True enough. But the crucial point is to let in the experience of dying, not dodge the suffering or deny it. We won’t be transformed; we won’t rise with Jesus if we don’t go through death with him.
We will enter eternal life with him as his prayer becomes ours: “Not my will, but . . . .”
Enjoy the happiness of a blessed Easter.
Frank Wessling

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