Sunday, February 23 2020
“Joy is the meeting place of deep intentionality and self-forgetting, the bodily alchemy of what lies inside us in communion with what formally seemed outside, but is now neither, but become a living frontier, a voice speaking between us and the world…Joy can be made by practiced, hard-won achievement as much as by an unlooked for, passing act of grace arriving out of nowhere; joy is a measure of our relationship to death and our living with death, joy is the act of giving ourselves away before we need to or are asked to, joy is practiced generosity. If joy is a deep form of love, it is also the raw engagement with the passing seasonality of existence, the fleeting presence of those we love understood as gift, going in and out of our lives, faces, voices, memory, aromas of the first spring day or a wood-fire in winter, the last breath of a dying parent as they create a rare, raw, beautiful frontier between loving presence and a new and blossoming absence. To feel a full and untrammeled joy is to have become fully generous; to allow ourselves to be joyful is to have walked through the doorway of fear…the sheer privilege of being in the presence of a mountain, a sky or a well-loved familiar face - I was here and you were here and together we made a world” (David Whyte).
In the Gospel, Peter, John, and James go to the mountain to pray. Jesus face changed in appearance and his clothes became dazzling white. Then they see Moses and Elijah, talking to him. It was obvious that they were outside the temporal realm. Do you believe in a world outside the temporal world in which we live?
Last week I spoke of a path that brings us to wholeness in our lives. I explained that two of the characteristics of the abundant life are deep relationships and deep joy. The poet David Whyte helps us to understand what deep joy is. If we live our life (to the best of our ability) as God intends us to live, we are promised the peace that passes all understanding. This inner peace is the key to a life filled with joy. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life because if we follow him we will experience the abundant life that we are promised.
The abundant life is filled with experiences outside the temporal realm. This fleeting presence of the Kingdom of Heaven is a foretaste of what we will experience in eternity after our resurrection. In today’s lesson Jesus crosses the temporal realm so that the disciples may have this foretaste, but the disciples are not in the right place to understand. I imagine that most of us miss out on the deep joy and peace that we are offered by God because we are too distracted by our egos, our anger, and other “stuff.” The trick in life for me is to let go of the “stuff,” give of ourselves to others, and to forgive others as we are forgiven by God. This deepens our relationship with God and our neighbor and allows us to experience the full benefit of God’s love and mercy. We are not only able to recover from bad things that happen to us, but somehow the glue that puts us back together makes us stronger than we had ever been. Once we see each other as broken vessels in need of the love and mercy of God, we love all our neighbors because we know that they are just as broken as us. We begin to walk the path that our Savior walked, who hung on a cross that he might know our pain and we might know the hope of the resurrection.
In Christ’s love,
or Psalm 99