Gift Given

All is gift; all is given!

In my more naive youth we feigned appreciation as we teased the Jesuit elder with whom this phrase became synonymous.  Only now am I beginning to glean his profound wisdom. Now the chronological age of the one we would taunt, I yearn for a spirituality with a sharper edge, a keener sense of purpose.

The paradox is that so much of the spirituality we inherited from our elders — or what we thought they were passing on — just isn’t cutting it. We forage amid the fragments for something that asks more of us than to sit and listen quietly to someone else telling us how to live.

Yet… it’s all there! …its all gift! …it’s already been given! That’s the paradox of our faith.

Those who read here regularly will recognize the echo of Barbara Brown Taylor. Learning to Walk in the Dark continues to inspire and console me these days. Her profound knowledge ascends to the wisdom of that Jesuit elder from my early formation. Her deep love — perhaps, reverence — for the long tradition of forebears frees her from slipping into idolatry.

BBT presents Moses as one of contemporary significance and offers Gregory of Nyssa as someone relevant today.  In tapping the very sources of Judeo-Christian faith, she masterfully weaves these origins with the mature wisdom of a fourth century Cappadocian monk.  She brilliantly retrieves them for those of us searching for a sharper, keener edge that cuts to the depths of our spiritual yearning.

Apparently, Gregory was the first in the tradition to recognize the Great Lawgiver as the exemplar whose maturation over time came to enflesh that which he was transmitting.  In this Moses’ teaching transcends any literal application of the Law.

Moses’ vision began with light, progressed through clouds and culminated by recognizing God in darkness.  Gregory counsels those who wish to draw close to God to take Moses as our mentor and exemplar.  Don’t be surprised or even disturbed when our vision turns cloudy. Our impulse to take charge will be fearsome. Like our forebears we will be inclined to construct idols.  Our eyes will demand to see.  Our intellect will fight to contain and categorize. Yet, All is gift!

If we resist our impulse to settle-in, settle-down and settle-for-less — if we open ourselves to the gift inviting us to persevere — our wise forebears in faith assure us that all our deepest yearnings will be satiated in the Holy One’s luminous darkness.

Transcending promise, ALL becomes gift given!

See p 48 of Learning to Walk in the Dark for BBT’s reference to Moses and Gregory of Nyssa.

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