“[Christ] brought to mind the attribute of a glad giver; a glad giver always takes but little heed of the thing that he gives, but all his desire and all his intent is to please and solace him to whom he gives it; and if the receiver takes the gift highly and thankfully, then the courteous giver sets at nought all his cost and all his travail for joy and delight that he has because he has pleased and solaced him that he loves.” (Chapter 23)
It's Easter Monday, maybe not a true holiday (although the college around the corner is closed) but a good day to reflect on where this Lenten journey has taken me. Blogging through the "Revelation" of Julian of Norwich has brought new insight and although I haven't made it through all of her writings, what I have pondered has settled deep into my heart.
In posting this final passage, I find myself wondering how well I am receiving the gift of Easter. Whether I allow it the power to change my life or, once the holiday is passed, if I'll sink back into old patterns of thinking and acting. In one of Julian of Norwich's visions, (posted here) Jesus asks her whether she is well-pleased with his sacrifice. His pleasure comes not only because it shows the depth of his love, but also because it is the way for us to experience fullness of life, to "one" with him.
How does this happen? What actually transpired on the cross on Good Friday is the subject of much theology, but at the very least I think there is an exchange. For our broken and estranged lives, we are granted the life of God. The salvation Jesus brings is about healing and reconnection; it includes forgiveness and restoration. The Spirit (which is poured out on Pentecost) grants us full access to divine love and power, including a companion and guide to life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Great gifts, all. And yet I wonder how many Christians find themselves continuing to struggle with guilt, a sense of distance from God and/or lack of clear vocation. The fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control - are nice ideas, but not abundant realities.
Perhaps it seems too good to be true. Maybe we're so used to being concerned and worried, or powerless and distracted, that the idea of living robust and confident lives just doesn't feel right. Or perhaps we've bought the idea that "being Christian" or "spiritual" is about a live that feels "sacrificial," one where we sigh and say, "well, that's just what I need to do. It's not about being fulfilled, it's about being obedient."
(more after the break)