11 Sep 2014

Form 'other' to 'another' and the wide mercies of God our cradling Grace

My life has some pretty basic routines. One of them is going to the neighbourhood mall Junction 8. By now I know the street, the spots to park free, the stores and the short-cuts pretty well. But still, I never quite get used to all the life I will meet each time I venture out.

Even a familiar place can yield the unfamiliar. The expected can throw up a surprise.

We can walk like the dead, going about our routines, operating like the rest of kingdom animaliae; just trying to survive another day. But we get restless, we question, we mourn, we get served a notice that jolts us awake.

Today for example, in the hustle I saw this skinny man whose eyes did not seem to focus really well.

He's not really old, not more than thirty. He was in his green and yellow uniform, standing right there in the sea of humanity streaming around him scrounging for bargains and queuing to make payment. There he stood, quite oblivious, waving his arms with palms up as if to catch falling water. I looked for a leak but did not see any. He seemed consoled too that he did not catch anything, and then proceeded to pick up his broom and pan. 
At the car park, I shifted my cumbersome trolley and gave a wide swath to another cleaner who smiled appreciatively as he maneuvered his mop-bin-on-wheels across. 

"It's easy to feel good for kindness, but you aren't different from him".
 I know. 
 Like him and the other, we are all but souls with skins on. All trying to make it through.

Later, as my car perched nervously at the slope turning onto the road, I glimpsed ahead of me a van that had the words "Inspiring Hope, Enriching Lives". It was the van that brought the small party who live with muscular dystrophy for their weekly outing. 

I am rushing through my gorcery routine and I am as usual feeling thirsty; and all this Life is asking me to pay attention.

There was a time when our thoughts were 'other' - we see someone different and we thank God we are not born/bred/turned out so. We feel a twinge of sympathy and when the charity drives come along, we are moved to help with our monies. But there remains a I/they divide. What's more, we often compare and augment 'I' by classifying and categorising 'them' so that the 'I' feels stronger/better/more.

But there comes a time when we see just 'another'. It is just another life really; and very much like ours. Another life wanting to mean something, be useful, to laugh, be loved and love. The garb and language and colour and words may all be different, but it comes to the same stuff of dust seeking glory. This is why I am upset these days --

when I think how we interpret Jesus' words that he came to give us life abundant as a narrow, materialistic, self-indulgent offer that we deserve. 

when i find myself forgetting so quickly that the awkward, badly dressed teen is imago Dei as I am. 

when I push my closest ones away too quickly because my soul is out of shape and I don't know what to do with my jutting angles; and it is their fault for coming too close.

In Brennan Manning's final book, All Is Grace, he writes simply of his life without fanfare or any need to embellish. His was a life-time of struggle with alcoholism. His was a life others can only dream about: book successes and a life message about Abba Love...Yet here was a man, another, like you and me. He had his triumphs and his demons. He lived honestly as he could. His is not written to garner a book prize. It almost read like a child's re-telling of a long adventure.

The simple truth that grips your heart and changes you is this: Ordinary life shines because it is all Grace.

What would your life and mine look like if we lived like we truly believed this Grace is wrapping us safe and cradling us through the storms?
 What would our world look like if we saw each other as just another, and helped each other sip often of the sweet nectar of Grace rather than rush around thirsty?

A great song as we ponder The Love of God by Rich Mullins

There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

Now I've seen no band of angels
But I've heard the soldiers' songs
Love hangs over them like a banner
Love within them leads them on
To the battle on the journey
And it's never gonna stop
Ever widening their mercies
And the fury of His love

Oh the love of God
And oh, the love of God
The love of God

Joy and sorrow are this ocean
And in their every ebb and flow
Now the Lord a door has opened
That all Hell could never close
Here I'm tested and made worthy
Tossed about but lifted up
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

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