Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Terrible Beauty

Advent is "a terrible beauty," to use Butler Yeats' immortal description of Ireland, a land racked with so much pain yet overwhelming beauty. This season invites us to open ourselves to the humbling mystery of the Incarnation with its awesome ramifications, yet, intense pain,

for this child will be the falling and rising of many
in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so
that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed,
and a sword will pierce your own soul too (Lk 2:34-35). 

So many want "Happy Birthday, Jesus" and a blond boy with blue eyes blissfully looking over his adulating fans.  Funny scripture doesn't support this. Some, more than many think, in fact want to coo over this baby and keep him right where he is, in the manger. Such as these accumulate their own thirty pieces of silver to betray their Lord when the time comes, and it ALWAYS comes.

The prophet, Simeon, speaks to those of us who walk with Christ as much as to Maryam, his mother. The signs of the present time speak ominously. Many talk nice. Those who do seem to rise to the heights as a result, but if we listen beyond the rhetoric, we hear what they really say: and it is evil, for evil uses the language of it's enemy, but is a cheap imitation. Many who act like Jesus, on the other hand, well, they look around, go to the low places, and see what's what.

The late archbishop, Dom Helder Camara, laments that when he feeds the poor, he's called a saint. When he asks why they are poor, he's called a communist.

Contemplatives stand on the margins and look with the eyes of the Ancient of Days--not a political party or economic theory--and ask why things are they way they are. They do this out of self-emptying love. Compassion pierces one's very being. Grace may be offered freely, but it is never cheap.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rosie's Rant

Sparks flew recently when Rosie O'Donnell responded to David Letterman's tasteless lines from his monologue referencing her recent engagement. Rosie's response was rather boisterous, which is no surprise.

Now, could Rosie have chosen to respond from her heart and simply say on the air how his stereotypical comments hurt her feelings and those of her fiancee?  Could she have also mentioned that language like he used actually contributes to young GLBT folks killing themselves? Yes, she could have.

Humor at another's expense hurts those joked about, and insults the genre itself.  This is unacceptable. Life is funny enough without having to cut someone else down for a cheap laugh. Someone who has the need to do so either was never funny or has lost his or her touch.

It seems to me that Rosie's response comes from anger and hurt. Perhaps she's tired of having to be "nice" all the time, smile, and accept the jokes and the use of the word "gay" as something negative.  Maybe she's a bit yanked at being called "sensitive" for reacting to such hate, for that's what it is. I get that, because, frankly, I know the taste of bile that burns my throat after repressing, yet again, another slur, however couched, and, like her, am damned tired of it.

Let's get one thing clear: those who know me, know that I do not wear my sexuality on my sleeve as it's a deeply integrated part of who I am. Quite simply, I am a man who happens to be gay, but this is among many other aspects that make me, me. The anger is justified, but the response is up to me (and to Rosie).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blooming in the Cold Night Air

Now the slightly out-of-focus picture above might not seem sensational, but the story behind it's pretty cool, to me at least.  Read on...

In the last week or so, temperatures dipped below freezing several nights.  The beautiful rose bushes still had several buds on them ready to burst, yes, in December.  I just assumed after the cold, the buds were dead, but I got an idea.

Instead of cutting them off and dropping them in the garden to fertilize the ground, I decided to bring them in the house and put them in some water, fully expecting nothing to happen.  Well, within a day, the buds opened a bit; I was happy with that.  Over the next few days they really opened and are exquisite.  The yellow ones, which were my late Mom's favorite, have such a lovely aroma.

All Creation manifests the work of the Master, even in freezing December.  God is present and we stand on holy ground.

Friday, December 9, 2011

O Root of Jesse, come!

What joy that the semester is now over.  Phew!  It was actually a wonderful time, but draining nonetheless.  I have deep gratitude for my professors and those with whom I shared classes.

It's been interesting this Advent that I have been able to remain almost completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle of carols and decorations, intense focus on gifts, and the like.  I am aware of it, but only as a gnat in the ear: it's there, you know it, but it doesn't really affect you much (or at least in my case it doesn't). 

Blessedly, this has been a year in which I can immerse myself in the pregnant possibilities anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ.  It is at once realizing that Incarnation is already reality, God pouring out in deep humility, yet, looking for the coming of Christ within each one of us who profess to follow him.  We are called to imitate "not in a literal mimicking of Christ, rather, it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation...we are to become vessels of God's compassionate love for others" (Franciscan Prayer, Ilia Delio, osf  68).

By emptying ourselves, we make room for a relationship with Christ, hence, the Triune God, that allows us to realize God in everything, everything in God, and to allow compassion to grow within us.  Advent is a time to ponder that, and to dwell in the hope of shalom, wholeness, within God's embrace.  This includes all Creation, which is not God, but made by God. God becomes fully human out of a deep love for what God has made.

Like awaiting our lover, we groan and yearn in anticipation.  If we focus on bargains and baubles, artificial lights that fill the skies, we miss the One True Light, who can be seen shining in deep darkness.  He comes for us.

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus, Come!