Dedicated to Research and Reflection in Formative Spirituality




About Us Programs Staff Links Contact Us



April 26, 2010

joyGod, may we look forward with hope to our resurrection, for you have made us your sons and daughters, and restored the joy of our youth.

     ~ Prayer of Third Sunday of Easter

In last week’s reflection on Hospitality and Homecoming, it was pointed out that Mary, in offering a space of hospitality for Jesus, recognizes “that in some way she herself is the guest, and that he who is coming is also the host whose hospitality she should be prepared to receive.”  Jesus offers the fullness of his presence, both before and after his death, to those who welcome him, who create a hospitable space for him.  And those who so welcome him discover that he to whom they have opened their lives becomes the host who welcomes them.  To receive Jesus without condition is at the same time to receive one’s own “inwardness in a new way.”  It is to know the freshness and newness of the present moment; it is to be restored to “the joy of our youth.”

     What makes life old for us is repetition.  Once we’ve “seen it all” and “know it all” our days are repetitions of the same experiences, judgments, and reactions.  We manage the events and relationships of our lives through the half shut eyes of our habits and routines, keeping the calls to deeper life at a distance through our well developed security directives.  As young children, we are wide-eyed observers and eager participants in a world that is at each moment new and suffused with mystery.  Each object, each human face holds a fascination for us, and we long to incorporate it into our own life and experience.   However, over time the process by which we become conformed to the social construction of our various worlds closes the wide eyed receptivity of our youthful docility and leads us to distance from otherness, from those aspects of the world that seem beyond our capacity to control and manage.  The stronger our capacity to manage becomes, the “older” the world gets for us.  We may do quite well and attain recognition and success, but at the cost of the joie de vivre that only the new can evoke in us.

     In Psalm 40, the Psalmist, having “waited patiently for the Lord” declares that the Lord “put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”   Having made a space for the Lord by waiting patiently, the Psalmist experiences his own “inwardness in a new way.”

Many, O LORD my God,

are the wonders you have done.

The things you planned for us

no one can recount to you;

were I to speak and tell of them,

they would be too many to declare.

The speaker of the Psalm, whose life experience has been that of living in “a slimy pit,” now recognizes the many marvels and wonders of God that are part of that very same life.  In short, the Psalmist has awakened with gratitude and appreciation to those aspects of life of which he had been totally unaware.

     At the level of the functional, our mind and will is appropriately at the service of self-preservation and self-protection.  According to Adrian van Kaam, this is typically human life.  But what makes us distinctively human, according to van Kaam, is our transcendence-ability, our innate capacity for the more.  No matter how clever and adept we may become at the level of the typically human, in time a life lived exclusively at that level, deprived of spirit, becomes old.  We long for transcendence.  Although otherness frightens us, we are also inherently drawn to it.  We know that the stranger, both within and without, is the bearer of new life to us.

     The Risen Jesus makes himself known not to those who, after his death, have “achieved closure and moved on,” but rather to those who continue to wait, and mourn and pray that they may be led to what is next to be asked of them.  The first to meet the Risen Jesus is Mary who throughout the Passion of Jesus and through the days since his death has stayed with him, mourning and waiting in the darkness for what God will do next.

     The Psalmist writes:

Then I said, Here I am, I have come —

 I desire to do your will, O my God;

your law is within my heart.

Our functional will is our capacity to act.  Our transcendent will is our capacity for receptivity, attunement, and response.  At the level of spirit, we are able to grasp the world in its Mystery and to attune to the Divine presence at its core.  Our mind and our will are not at their core autonomous and autarchic.  They are rather servants of the Divine will, a creative and loving will that is the creative source of all that lives.

     Life gets old for us when we fail to live in the present moment.  Then, through our fearful and jaundiced eye, the moment is but a memory of what has already transpired in our life; it is a reflection of the experiences we have already had.  But when we create a space, by attuning our mind and will to that of the Mystery, we are present to the moment as the young child, recognizing its newness, its possibility, and its summons for our unique response.

Copyright © 2007 [Resources in Spiritual Formation].

All rights reserved.

Last updated: 11/24/10.