quarta-feira, dezembro 27, 2006

The Walls I Build

Recently I've been thinking about the walls I build around my life. It seems that we all have these walls to an extent. There's an area that we try so hard to protect and sometimes with very good reason. But many of these walls are meant to fall, and some fall harder than others. I would have to say that I am an expert wall-builder... that is if we're talking quantity. While home, by quality doesn't look half bad either. These walls take quite a beating as I prepare and begin to build them sometimes even weeks before a return. It's hard to tell the function of these walls really.... It's like they're the ones you climb over-- you don't beat through them. At school, they crumble-- absolutely fall to pieces, only to be rebuilt and fall and again rebuilt. I don't know how not to build them. They're easy and automatic. And they work great with such wear that would normally tear apart my unguarded heart. Do we experience things to learn to build these walls more efficiently? Or do we experience things to recognize the walls, their advantages and disadvantages? What I've learned over time, however, is that these walls fall, and when they do, whether they fall in good ways or bad, they leave a mess and some scratches. We were not made for the insides of walls, and man-made buildings are not for our hearts.... As I build walls and they continue to fall, I learn that perhaps I don't need a wall to divide me from everything-- to guard me from what might come. What I need is a guardian, someone who walks beside me and who builds bridges to solutions, who walks through things hand-in-hand with me. I will not move, I cannot grow, I cannot go anywhere if I stay within the walls that I build. As walls fall, I need to learn to sing as Paul did. I cannot stay and rebuild the prison around me, but I must let God lead me out and away from those walls

"God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. He only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down."
A Grief Observed / Lewis, C.S

Let's Talk About Real Reality

"Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than a minority of them—never become even conscious of them all. How much of total reality can
such an apparatus let through?"
A Grief Observed / Lewis, C.S.

I found this quote very interesting and very close to something I've been asking myself for a long time. If what I've lived in my 21 years on earth is not "the real world," what is? It's not reality television, that's for sure. I get the feeling that what everyone claims to be "the real world" is some hyped up drama on steroids-- a pessimistic world that people claim must be real simply because it's corrupted.

However, God created the "real world." So really, lets ask ourselves again, what is the real world? If God creates the "real world," then this dirt and smut and film that covers it doesn't make it real, it just makes it dirty.... The world that we step into is not an easy one. I never claim this-- I know better. However, it is also not the real one.

The world that I must live in is one that can, at times, bring great sadness. It's a world that is not blind to the grime, but it is one in which I wade through the mud to show others what it means to be cleansed. What many don't understand about the way we should live life is that we don't live life free of the bad stuff that comes our way. It doesn't just bounce off of us. When things happen to family members, it doesn't just effect them. It takes practice, a sort of off-road training to carry one another through and sometimes that means sore muscles.

However, each life is a real one. Each created life is meant for God's cleansing hand. And though we may not see it in ourselves (it's often hard to get psat a shield of mud-- a coat of dirt that clouds our sight of even ourselves), we do have the potential for real life. A clear life. And granted, the clear way is sometimes more painful. It hurts at times to see and recognize just who we are or have been. But above all the Christian life is about getting over ourselves and letting God clean us and work through our real lives in a world swimming in muddy waters.

Henri Nouwen

Real care is not ambiguous. Real care excludes indifference and is the opposite of apathy. The word “care” finds its roots in the Gothic “Kara” which means lament. The basic meaning of care is: to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with. I am very much struck by this background of the word care because we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the have’s toward the have-not’s. And, in fact, we feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone’s pain before doing something about it.

Still, when we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares.

You might remember moments in which you were called to be with a friend who had lost a wife or husband, child or parent. What can you say, do, or propose at such a moment? There is a strong inclination to say: “Don’t cry; the one you loved is in the hands of God.” “Don’t be sad because there are so many good things left worth living for.” But are we ready to really experience our powerlessness in the face of death and say: “I do not understand. I do not know what to do but I am here with you.” Are we willing to not run away from the pain, to not get busy when there is nothing to do and instead stand rather in the face of death together with those who grieve? . . .

Our tendency is to run away from the painful realities or to try to change them as soon as possible. But cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators, and prevents a real community from taking shape. Cure without care makes us preoccupied with quick changes, impatient and unwilling to share each other’s burden. And so cure can often become offending instead of liberating. It is therefore not so strange that cure is not seldom refused by people in need. Not only have individuals refused help when they did not sense a real care, but also oppressed minorities have resisted support, and suffering nations have declined medicine and food when they realized that it was better to suffer that to lose self-respect by accepting a gift out a non-caring hand. . . .

. . . Every human being has a great, yet often unknown, gift to care, to be compassionate, to become present to the other, to listen, to hear and to receive. If that gift would be set free and made available, miracles could take place. Those who really care can receive bread from a stranger and smile in gratitude, can feed many without even realizing it. Those who can sit in silence with their fellowman not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life in a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears in grief, and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart, can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken. . . .

To care means first of all to empty our own cup and to allow the other to come close to us. It means to take away the many barriers which prevent us from entering into communion with the other. When we dare to care, then we discover that nothing human is foreign to us, but that all the hatred and love, cruelty and compassion, fear and joy can be found in our own hearts. When we dare to care, we have to confess that when others kill, I could have killed too. When others torture, I could have done the same. . . .

By the honest recognition and confession of our human sameness we can participate in the care of God who came, not to the powerful but powerless, not to be different but the same, not to take our pain away but to share it. Through this participation we can open our hearts to each other and form a new community.

Excerpted from Out of Solitude.