Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Altar of the Heart

To become part of God's offering leaves no room for self-reflection, and even if reminded by someone else from time to time, there is little more than raising one's head in dumb wonder and thanksgiving before returning to the task.

There is a terrible danger here: as soon as we begin to realize what is happening. to be self-reflective, as soon as we begin to grasp at this power, it is, by our grasping, turned to evil. As soon as we reflect that God's power has come in to and is working through us, we already threaten to become luciferian, usurping mastery, a mastery that is by definition not kenotic, a mastery that dominates and twists and controls everything with which we come in contact in the name of all that is holy.

We begin to attempt to trap, maintain, possess, shore up the illusion of possessing the power of God; we become possessed by the terror of losing it. The power of God can be present only through the tears of acknowledged powerlessness and sin. As soon as we say we are righteous we are evil. This is not a doctrine of total depravity: we are created good, but when we use our free will to grasp power that belongs to God, that power becomes evil.

Many of us live under the illusion that if we are not for good or for evil we can exist in some moral limbo. The reality is that if we do not choose to be given for the purposes of God, then we are available to be used for the purposes of evil. To be unconscious is to leave oneself open to being manipulated; to be awake and weeping is to be in touch with reality and available to be poured-out-through by the love of God.

We come again and again to this precarious moment: the choice of willingness or willfulness, of kenosis or self-aggrandizement; of service or dominance. The moment we waver, this power ceases to be God's power and becomes our narrow enslaving fearful will turned on our selves.

The more we become the power of God, the more we must know our need of God. To become part of God's infinite possibility is to live always within a question: what shall it be? Slavery or freedom? Prison or possibility? Death or life?

Becoming God's power in this mingling of kenosis, of tears becoming fire, is true priesthood. God's kenosis is a constant giving up of power, and God's kenosis is God's tears. This kenosis in us is a readiness always to engage but also always ready to disengage, so as not to limit possibility. This is how God's power must be expressed in our kenosis.

Although we are finite, God treats us as image and not as object, and thus infinite possibility becomes possible even in finite creation, although our capacity for the love of God remains finite. We are still creature. Our kenotic life is our life in the life of God and God's in us: this kenotic life is our life in the kenotic Trinity.

Love itself is the polarity in this exchange, and our tears are born of it.

The Fountain and the Furnace, pp. 207...209.


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