Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rule of Life and Letting Go

Getting into Lent means getting into shape.  Spiritual shape, that is.   And so I spent a good deal of time Thursday with my spiritual director going over what is called my "Rule of Life."

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The Rule of Life is like your spiritual workout plan.   There's the section outlining your Daily Prayer life.  And the part about your Daily Study (which includes the "What are you reading" list).  And then there is the Daily Action, which in some ways, is a synthesis of the first two categories and actually taking the prayer and study and applying it in ministry to others.

We reviewed my Rule of Life from last February.  Overall, I had done pretty well.  I had met most of the basics in my plan, but there were some places that even I had noted needed improvement. The most glaring was that I haven't been centering daily the way I should, and must, if I am going to surrender my ego and trust God.

Surrendering and trusting. These are not easy for me. I was reminded of the story in the Gospels about Peter walking out onto the water. He was fine as he kept his eyes on Christ. And then the wind blew, which reminded him that he was out on the water, and he looked around and--splash!--down he went into the sea, spluttering and thrashing and hoping not to drown. Jesus, rather than berating him for being a stupid twit, lifts him to safety and returns him to the boat.

I am Peter in that story. A part of me knows full well that I need to keep my eyes on Christ, and as long as I stay focused there, I'll be fine. A part of me knows that when I look away and start to sink, God will lift me up and keep me from going under. And then there is a part of me that has no trust at all. That's the part that continues to think that Christ will laugh at my misery. This is the cruel part, the one who still attempts to pull me off the path with God.

In Morning Prayer this morning, I was reminded again of the task before me from Deuteronomy:

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.--Deuteronomy 11:26-28

This idea gets repeated later by the Deuteronomist in Chapter 30 when the blessings and curses come to life and death: choose life.  The part of me that calls into question my faith, and mocks any trust in God is the one that will lure me toward the choice that is death.  "Other gods" can be any number of other "things" that are not life affirming and will lock me back up in the prison of fear and doubt and self-loathing. 

I have lived in that prison.  And society, even the church, has fed me the gruel that allowed me to stay in that prison.  I believe this prison is the one that many LGBT people of my age have sat in as politicians and preachers invoked the name of Jesus to justify cruelty toward us.  The trauma of the experience of that prison lingers within me, even though I have long since been freed.  The task is for the more enlightened parts of my being, the ones that have known and experienced the liberation of Christ, to continually seek the blessing which is life, and make that the reality that I live in, not the one that is warped by falsehoods which attempt to negate the promise that God is Love and will be with us to the end of the age.

There is a reason the spiritual workout plan is called "Rule of Life."  Follow the rule, and you will live more than you will die.

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