Tuesday, May 29, 2012
KEEPING SCORE WITH JESUS
Ever since some wise man discovered the zero, thus enabling what became mathematics, we have been able to add, subtract, multiple, divide, etc., developing computer codes and such esoteric, yet deemed critically important, statistics as “earned run averages”, stock market averages, currency fluctuations, and literally innumerable other uses of numbers, though some, like tracking how many ‘friends’ one has on social media sites belie a deeper angst which infects much of the human family. I am tempted here to insert various common wisdoms such as ‘figures don’t lie, but liars sure can figure’ and ‘it is never too late to teach an old dog a new trick’, but to pursue such would be to avoid the very tough lesson I am barely on the threshold of embracing! In human terms there is no one more important in my life and whom I truly seek to be a gift to, to love, protect, serve, than my own son and since his marriage his wife and their children have a co-equal share of my heart. Holy Mother the Church, friends, the poor, yes even my enemies are treasured, loved, and when needed, forgiven. Primarily for each one of us love is an act of the will, but we are beings who also have emotions and we all know emotions are about as easy to control as it is to carry a pound of jello in our bare hands, running a steeple chase! Our emotions often behave like earthquakes. It is as if we live on a fault line, the sudden upheavals coming at the least expected and most inopportune moments in our lives. How about the emotional reaction of the disciples wanting to nuke those they felt opposed Jesus [Lk.9.54]! We learn as children, appropriately as it is connected both to playing fair and also teaches deep lessons about accepting loss in life, that some forms of play involve team sports and the team with the most goals, wins. The other team does not. Winning, wrongly interiorized, can lead to arrogance. Loss, wrongly interiorized, can lead to deep wounds woven into self-doubt, even in the extreme a sense of being unlovable which in turn is often expressed as extreme, never able to be satisfied, need for acceptance. If parents pit one child against another, deliberately or inadvertently, that is the ultimate experience of being the losing team. I admire my son and his wife how they manage the extremely important balance of treating each of their children equally with love and attention, yet also have neat little ways in which each child gets the right amount of individual love and attention which affirms to the child they are unique and uniquely loved. Suffice to say my experience growing up was the polar opposite and by the time I left home at fourteen to find my own way in the world more damage was done than then, or even now on the threshold of seventy, I realized or, as recent events have underscored, realize fully yet! Indeed it is a shock to face the fact I am not unlike the labourers who felt they should have been paid more [Mt. 20:1-16]. They were keeping score. I have been doing so most of my life, with more emotional damage to myself and being burdensome to those who love me than I have ever understood, Lord have mercy indeed! Keeping it simple, suffice to say the other day my son did something necessary for his own wellbeing as a hardworking family man which gave him some respite and a relaxing evening. When I heard about it I was frankly deeply hurt at not being included as it is something I have long desired to participate in with him and I went, to be honest, emotionally ballistic. Chatting with a friend I uttered score words, namely how long I have been waiting for……and my friend said very simply: “You are keeping score.” I felt like I have been sucker punched and went interiorly into aggressive denial, but his words would not be silenced in my mind or heart. I began begging the Holy Spirit to settle me down and enable me to look honestly at the implications of my friend’s words and I discovered, primarily about myself, this human bondage to keep emotional score and how damaging it really is. Now in some ways I have been trying to dig myself out of quicksand. Thankfully, I do not have to do it on my own because in the midst of all storms we see Who really is doing the digging out, the rescuing: Mt. 14:23-33. The Holy Gospel is filled with examples of Jesus taking someone by the hand and raising them up from illness or paralysis and so forth and each of these examples of physical healing, the examples of Jesus setting people free from bondage to demons, are applicable. Jesus will, indeed yearns to if we ask Him, raise us up out of, set us free from, emotional turmoil as well. So if I am to be raised up from drowning in, set free from the bondage of keeping score is there a sort of replacement means of score keeping, in other words, is there a way Jesus teaches me to keep score? If we meditate deeply and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us then in passages such as Matthew chapters 5, 6, 7 and 18:21, 22; Mark 10: 29-31; Luke 6:38; John 15:13, just a few examples, we will see that the way Jesus keeps score, as it were and call us to, is never about what I get or what need of mine is met, rather all is about gift, in essence how as Jesus gifts Himself to us is precisely how I am called to make myself gift to other. Sure I am not claiming when it comes to keeping score being converted as yet but thanks to that word from my friend I am no longer comfortable keeping score in the old way plus my eyes are wide open to being aware of what an immense gift my son is – and that, constantly giving thanks, is the essential way too Jesus keeps score, always giving thanks to Our Father and His for love and blessing, indeed Jesus gifts Himself as the penultimate reality of thanks-giving in the Holy Eucharist. So, how have you been keeping score lately?