Socrates still makes people uncomfortable. The Oracle of Delphi named him the wisest man in the world. Asked why, Socrates replied that the only way that made any sense was because he understood that he really knew nothing. Knowing how little we know is the first step towards wisdom because it is the first step to teachability, correctability, and taking responsibility for finding out what we don’t know but pretend or delude ourselves that we do.
As long as the human race lives, we will not just “lie down and die” and meekly submit to “the inevitable”. We are not made that way. We are made to rise, to overcome, to create, to renew, to enhance. Our innermost soul tells us this even in the midst of the worst. Most often, our soul tells us without words, but nonetheless with great clarity through our drive to live, to repair, to make better.
Evil has a personal face, all the time. A natural process is not “evil” of itself, but can evil effects on the living creatures sometimes caught in its path. Since we do not control these processes, we call them “acts of God”.
But the Creator is not “evil” for creating a cosmos in which its elements and processes may bring pain and suffering on the beings inhabiting it. Those beings are also part of that cosmos, but the difference is that some of them are aware of how things proceed, what kinds of effects some actions can produce – both on themselves and on other creatures, and even on the non-living part of the cosmos. That is where the moral element enters.
Humans are creatures which bridge the physical and non-physical sides of reality. Unfortunately for we Westerners (and, via our invasion of every other culture, everyone else now too), we have cultivated and inculcated a way of seeing (or, more accurately, not seeing) without reference to the unseen. In other words, we have deliberately forsaken Insight, the very human and precious ability to See In. Thus, we have crippled our humanity.
“Eternity in our hearts” is what this Easter thing is really about. It’s about the ultimate fulfillment of the old stories of death being defeated by life. It has nothing to do with denying the “natural order” or the “self-evident laws of evolution and natural selection and survival of the fittest”.
this all-loving, all-merciful Creator comes to us in Person, even as a human Person, and says, “You can be fully forgiven. Just forgive one another as I forgive you, and accept that if you hold unto me, I’ll see you through into God’s eternal Kingdom.”
The opportunity is to use our own “forty” days in the wilderness that we have been collectively given to turn away from our vanity and turn towards the only two things that really matter: finding our home in the Creator’s heart and arms, and sharing His/Her love to take in the others around us as we find that home, that Center. In the old language it was called “Love God with you whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbour like you love yourself.”
poverty of spirit . . . . is the opposite of self-sufficient pride and confidence in our ability to get along without the Creator. It is not an automatic posture, especially in the 21st Century West (if it has ever been automatic). It is actually a rather rare state. Few humans attain it for very long. It takes a lot of counter-intuitive cultivation to “arrive” there and abide in it.
Tradition is a way of acknowledging how much has been passed on to us by those who have preceded us. Traditions recognize that our forebears sowed into our lives and created things we enjoy. They gifted us, in many cases with loving intent, and with a faith that what they were passing to us would make our lives better, would enhance our ability to give back in the future. In our trendy phrase, they are saying “pay it forward”.
The point of Lent is to stop denying it and awaken it, encourage it to search for what can finally bring us to real fulfillment – to set aside the counterfeits that can never fill the hole in our soul.