“…Through a Glass Darkly.”

Spiritual life involves a mystery. It is a mystery. This is because it is about the very heart of our existence and our existence is a mystery. Modern science is bearing this out. The Bible and other holy writ have long said as much.

This mystery can be apprehended…and I use the term loosely…by faith. For, “Faith is the evidence of things unseen and the …..” We lay hold to eternal truth only by faith and as we “lay hold” on this truth we are deeply aware of the flimsy nature of this grasp, intensely aware that the object of our faith always eludes our cognitive grasp which serves the purpose of keeping us humble. “We see through a glass darkly” and “we hold this treasure in earthen vessels.”

When we are teased with the notion, “Oh, I have arrived” a discerning spirit will let us know, “Oh, no. You are just en route!” To borrow from the astute judgment of Karl Barthes (I think!), “We are in love with the object which recedes from the knowledge of it.”

T. S. Eliot put it this way in The Four Quartets:

And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment.

And then I’d like to share from wisdom attributed (falsely) to Oscar Romero, the actual author being Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, Michigan:

A Future Not Our Own
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

(This quotation from the Bishop comes from a blog by Blue Eyed Ennis on wordpress.com. This blog is always a treasure trove of spiritual wisdom.)

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2 thoughts on ““…Through a Glass Darkly.”

  1. mtsweat

    I love the nicety, “When we are teased with the notion, “Oh, I have arrived”’ We would of course never intentionally take off down that road. 🙂 This is a great piece good friend. Blessings…

    Like

    Reply

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