Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hunger for God

[From "The Fire of Your Life: A Solitude Shared", Seabury Books, 2007.]

In his ballet Prodigal Son, George Balanchine illustrates this interior passage in a way that leaves the observer hollow and exhausted. In the beginning, the son expresses the aggression of youth, his rage and frustration at the love he perceives as confinement. He turns away from home and crouches like an animal ready to spring, pounding his knee with both fists.

When the father tries to include him in the family blessing, he pulls away. The father gently insists, but the moment his back is turned, the son repeats the gesture and explodes into the immense leap that became Villella's and Barishnikov's trademark. The ballet progresses to the son's inevitable downfall and abandonment. He is totally alone. His loneliness is unbearable, even more unbearable than love. It is the pain of acknowledging that he is not a separate entity in the universe that brings him through grief and sets him on his way to his father's arms.

The wrath of God is relentless compassion pursuing us when we are at our worst. Christ give us mercy to bear your Mercy!

There are many of these movements of repentance in solitude—yours and mine—this becoming aware of the security blanket of sins that are as unfathomable as they are unspeakable. We have tantrums each time this childish totem is taken away, and we begin again and again to turn to the unbearable love of God. Always we begin; we are continually beginning. Beginning to understand what loneliness really is: hunger for God.

We try to fill up that ghastly hole in the pit of our stomachs that is really in our souls. We try to fill it with food, with power, with sex. And there is no more isolating loneliness than that experienced in the most intimate act between two people when they are using it to take instead of give.

[To be continued]


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