Sunday, September 7, 2014

Imagine You Were Crippled... There's the Spiritual Life

Imagine this scenario please. (With all due reverence.)

Both of your legs are crippled and you're on a quarter mile long, oval foot racing track with 100 other people who are all suffering from the same difficulty.  Everyone is in wheelchairs and they are scattered about the track.  Some are by themselves.  Some people are paired with others.  There are several small groups talking in circles and a few larger groups are gathered about.

Imagine, too, that 75% (or 50% or 90%, it doesn't much matter) of these handicapped individuals do not acknowledge that they are in wheel chairs.  In fact, these particular individuals (whether by themselves or in groups, it doesn't much matter) are comparing themselves to everyone else.  Whether in thought or voice this particular percentage of people (and sometimes the other percentage of people join into these discussions and musings) are all convinced that they are very fast runners.  They love to think about their style of racing and they love to talk amongst themselves about their own racing accomplishments.  Much to your surprise (being yourself one of those crippled) everyone, in fact, thinks he is the fastest, the best - some kind of racing god.

Now, not everyone always entertains these thoughts.  Many have admitted (difficult though it was) and accepted (difficult even further still) that they are not able to even walk, much less win a foot race.  You notice that the more peaceful an joy filled people are those who have come to grips with their state of affairs.  They tend to be the older ones though not everyone. There are still plenty of angry old people who think they are best runners even though they cannot run at all!

You are bewildered at all of this.  "How can all of these physically handicapped individuals - handicapped just as I am - sincerely think that they can run??  I know they sincerely believe this delusion but why do they deny their own handicap and limitations?"


This, of course, is a parable.  The handicapped individuals are all of us.  The track is our world.  The handicap itself is our spiritual blindness, or our pride, or our sinfulness.  The disgruntled folk are those among us (indeed, any of us at any given time) who like to think we're very good and blameless and better than other people.  The joyful individuals are those who have admitted the truth that they cannot run.

I think we all, deep down inside, for various reasons compare ourselves to others.  This makes us very unhappy - we all know that.  We like to judge ourselves as superior to each other in whatever way we happen to be justifying at the present moment.  "She's dumb, I'm prettier, he's lazy, I'm holier, I'm better than him because..."

In so many ways we have convinced ourselves that we can run when, in reality, we are very proud and self-focused.  The happiest among us are those who seldom think of themselves.  They're called the Saints.  

If the goal of life were to jump to the moon we would boast of jumping one inch higher than someone else and another would brag about his new trampoline that lets him double or triple his jumping height.

Yet, everyone falls infinitely short of ever jumping to the moon.  

The point in the spiritual life is not "How high can I jump?"  The point is to stop pretending you even *can* jump.  As little children, we just have to let the Father pick us up and take us up into the Heavens.  

Christ can heal our moral handicaps and can teach us to walk and eventually run.  He can make "our feet swift as those of hinds and enable us to go upon the heights." - Habakkuk 3:19


“I have always wanted to be a saint. Alas! I have always noticed that when I compared myself to the saints, there is between them and me the same difference that exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and the obscure grain of sand trampled underfoot by the passers-by. Instead of becoming discouraged, I said to myself: God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself, such as I am with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new. We are living now in a age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for, in the homes of the rich, an elevator has replaced these very successfully. I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched then in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: “Whoever is a little one, let him come to me” (Prov 9:4) And so I succeeded. I felt I had found what I was looking for.” 
- St. Therese of Lisieux

"Unless you turn and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."   Matthew 18:3

I think Heaven's door is very small and only if we bend very low in humility can we hope to enter.  Faith and true love take great humility.  Accepting the truth takes great humility.  To admit what I am... very little.  

Shhh! There's the secret to happiness! Now go to tell everybody you know.