Friday, April 1, 2011

Rooted in fear, grounded in love

This morning Desmond Tutu confirmed something I have long suspected: most everything negative we humans are capable of -- greed, laziness, rage, jealousy -- is rooted in fear.  "We hoard and overspend against the fear we will not have enough... we procrastinate lest we prove to be incapable... We get enraged rather than admit that we are confused, hurt, worried, inadequate.

Next time you are angry with your spouse or partner," he goes on, "ask yourself, "What am I afraid of?

Why is it important that we understand this notion?  Because as long as we can't face those fears, they have a way of looming over us.  If we can name them, though, they have a way of becoming manageable.  Not only that, but we get better at recognizing them in others -- which makes it easier to understand and forgive.

The truth, he says, is that there will always be enough: enough love, enough material things, enough applause -- more than enough to go around for all of us to flourish.    "But for us to engage in the practices that will ensure that we all prosper, we must come to know that each of us is linked in the chain of our common humanity.  God dwells in each of us."

Which is the lesson at the heart of our Lenten readings for today in Richard Rohr's Wondrous Encounters:  "'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And the second is like unto this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12: 29 - 31)

If we understand that chain of humanity; if we can comprehend that God dwells in each of us, then we know that to honor and love God is to love and honor one another; that the two commandments are truly inseparable.  When on hearing the commandments a student responds, "To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,"  Jesus affirms the importance of his understanding, saying, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

That fear which drives us to hurt one another: I believe it could actually go away if we could really grasp this concept; if we could finally and completely understand that God's uniting presence resides permanently in each of us; that nothing can separate us from that empowering and fulfilling love.

I'm not there yet.  But I can at least begin to comprehend the awe expressed in Rohr's prayer for today:

"One God, you make all things one.  Even my own heart, and even one with the hearts of others, and most unbelievably one with yours."

I am coming to know this -- at least in part.  I pray that someday this understanding will be more deeply rooted in me; more deeply rooted even than fear.  Actually, maybe that means I'm working toward becoming grounded: grounded in love.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

Beautiful prayer, which I've written down.

I'm not there yet either. I know I have to keep trying. The prayer contains the reason.