When an environment becomes more hostile, people may react by becoming more aggressive or more passive. Or they may choose the way of love. Love is square one. And today’s talk is “Getting to square one.”
Henry: Safe? Please help me understand what you mean.
Chris: Safe from physical assault, verbal assault, and symbolic assault. Safe from unfriendly eyes, from anxiety about the need to defend myself. Safe to be who God made me.
Henry: What safety can this world give?
Chris: There are places, times, relationships, groups, experiences where all such concerns are a million miles away. I wish I could enjoy that safety all the time. At least I want more safety more of the time. I shall ask for it and advocate for others who need it.
Henry: God, the infinite upholder is our security. When our security is spiritually established, we are far more resilient socially. For some reason, beyond the human capacity to fathom, the Creator added to the perfection of heaven. He added an evolving creation; he endowed imperfect beings with free will; and each one of us starts out life as an uncivilized creature, needing nurture and education in order to approach, advance, and protect such civilization as we have. Although this world is destined for perfection, it is not safe, though a moral and spiritual renaissance could pave the way to make it much safer.
The more resilience we develop, the stronger we are, the more we are able to join the ranks of the strong, positive, beneficent personalities whose ministry banishes fear and destroys anxiety.
Chris: I’m looking forward to growing stronger and to a safer world.
Henry: Me, too.
The end of the dialogue.
The start of the monologue.
On my path of learning the ways of love, mercy, and ministry, I was filled this morning with the presence of love. After some minutes, thoughts came, and I needed to re-enter the space of soul. At length I wondered: How did I become aligned so as to be able to receive this gift? It seemed that there had been a variety of factors, divine and human, assembling over time, and brought to a level of readiness in the last couple weeks.
A few days ago, listening to a friend who was expressing contempt toward a particular organization, awakened contempt in me. The next morning, bringing this organization to mind, I was beset with my objections to and difficulties with, this organization. But only for a minute, because divine love came in instantly my objections and difficulties totally disappeared. I decided to act on this love and did so.
Another day it became utterly obvious that the way forward for me was the path of second-miler service. This is an image that Jesus used. When the Roman Empire governed in Palestine, it was the law that any soldier could compel another man to carry his pack for a mile. Jesus thought of a safe, creative, way to proclaim the way of truth and love to the soldier: voluntarily carry the pack a second mile. To “go the second mile” symbolizes that degree of loving service. I had seen that quality of service for decades in my wife, and it finally occurred to me that, even though I might never satisfy my ambition to reach many people with preaching, I can begin to learn the way of second-miler service.
Yesterday, after dealing with hurdle that took longer, I went to the gym, and once again was blessed by the spiritual quality of a couple of interactions. Driving home, the phrase presented itself to me in all its sublimity: the supreme desire to do the will of God. I went for it with every fiber of my being.
No peak experience lasts. But each puts a tessera—a piece with its own shape and color—into the mosaic. Somehow something accumulates. Mysteriously, spirit acts. Mysteriously, soul grows.
Each person’s journey is unique, as thinking, feeling, and doing interweave, enabling one concept to ripen and then another, until a person is ready for a larger insight. The beauty of it all that that one person’s path through the logic of interconnected spiritual concepts and their personal realization cannot serve as a pattern for another person to imitate.
I suggest the thirteen-minute podcast episode.