"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

04 March 2008

"Oh, Taste and See . . ."

You wouldn't often know, to watch my daily irritations, that I love and trust God the Father, through Jesus the Son, by means of the Holy Spirit. But He keeps showing me His love in kindnesses that startle and amaze and humble me . . .

I'm used to waking up at odd hours of the morning with words on my mind: usually something like "I'm soooooo weary . . ." or, all too often, "I wish I could just die."

On a recent morning, however, I woke at some odd hour with the words "I love You, Father" on my mind.

I was so startled I withdrew them -- oh, I don't really love God; I'm so far from loving God; where did that come from!

I fell back asleep for awhile, bemused, and a bit annoyed with myself for rejecting a gift I'd never before received -- the love that Jesus had given me, the love that Jesus had made me, welling up to my conscious mind upon waking from a deep sleep.

When I woke again, a half-hour or so before the alarm was set to go off, the same words were there: "I love You, Father."

And all the time I was preparing for the day and driving to campus -- a sense -- an actual sense -- of gratitude, of longing, of delight. I prayed in thankfulness, I prayed what I desired without rancor or desperation, I prayed my felt love. This I have not experienced for years; I can only barely remember this sense of God's presence from my college years.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good . . ." I see it much of the time, whenever and wherever I'm willing to look, and rejoice in it. But tasting it? Oh, so few times!

Where do words on the mind come from when one wakes? I wasn't thinking about my love for God when I fell asleep -- as I recall, I was screaming, silently but madly, at my brain to shut up and leave me alone, stop keeping me awake with a litany of the multitude of urgent tasks awaiting me, or those pathetic, pounding notes of "music" that usually presage a depressive episode.

So where do such words come from? Many times over the years, I've been startled by someone's thanking me for being an encouragement, because I'd smiled, or done some small service, or said some salient word, when I knew I'd been in the worst of moods, deep in depression, mired in myself. And yet . . . they saw, not me, but Christ in me.

And perhaps I begin to see: Christ dwells in me, and somehow my deepest desire, instilled in me because it is His deepest (only) desire and I am in Him, is, truly, to serve the Father.

Polycarp, in his old age, was told to deny Christ or die. He said that he would no longer be Polycarp if he were to deny Christ: because he was in Christ, because his identity was Christ, for Polycarp to deny Christ would be for Christ to deny Christ -- an impossibility.

And so, even when the flesh or circumstances or depression gets in the way, He is still in me desiring to serve the Father -- and fairly often, it seems, He does so quite apart from whether I'm thinking about it, or willing it, or getting myself out of the way, or doing whatever latest thing we've been told to do so that He can work in us.

And this morning, He said in me, because it's true for me because I am in Him, "I love You, Father" -- and I tasted, for a short time, His goodness, with my heart and soul, and not with my mind and strength only.

Oh . . .! Christ in me; I in Him . . . "Let naught be all else to me save that Thou art . . ." -- may I know it every moment whether I taste it or no . . .


Fieldfleur said...

Hearing about your "tastes" and breaks-in-the-ice helps me know that it may be common to feel at odds with what we long for or feel like what should be.
Thanks for sharing your gift. Well-expressed.


alaiyo said...

Thanks, Teri -- God bless you, dear sister.


Anonymous said...

tho' he is under the world's splendour and wonder,
His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
For I greet him the days that I meet him, and I bless him when I understand.

--from "The Wreck Of The Deutschland"