08 December 2007

Week 2, Advent 2007

It is true that the human heart is the "place where God bears witness to himself", and that therefore there is an ongoing dynamic and unremitting hallowing going on in the very core of our being. This profound reality seems a tremendous miracle and an awesome picture of what constitutes the human person. And yet, wondrous as it is, it is only a portion of the picture, a part of what constitutes us as human in regard to God, a portion of how it is we are related to the One who wills to dwell with us and to reconcile all things in and through himself. For it is not only true that God dwells within us, but it is also true that he exists outside of us, and in fact, is that ultimate reality within which we move and have our being.

Many images may be used to refer to this ultimate context of our lives, but the most intimate remain "womb", and "heart." We often have the image of a God who remains distant from us, remote and hard to reach or hear. In the sense that God is wholly other than we are, there is some truth in these images. And yet, what is also true is that God is the communion of being and love IN WHICH we are called to exist and out of which we are called to reach out to others. Whether we envision this reality as a womb, or a heart, or even a Word or story which we are allowed to enter and which calls us to rest securely within, ours is a God who in this way also has chosen not to remain alone.

When combined with the image of the Word or song of God dwelling actively within our own hearts, we have a really awesome portrait of human existence: we are made for divinity both within and without. God calls to us, and to Godself within us, from without; he summons us to greater and greater degrees of communion, greater and greater degrees of identification with himself. Word calls to Word; it seeks its own completion, reconciliation, or perfection in this way. And so too do we reach our own completion and perfection in this way. Just as an isolated word has no meaning without context, so too do our own lives remain senseless unless the Word spoken deep within our hearts, that Name by which God calls us to be, also comes to rest in the Word/Story which comes to us from outside. Augustine said it more simply: Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.

Advent is a time of preparation. We prepare our hearts, not only that God has a wider or more spacious place to dwell within them, but so that they may accept a place we are each offered in the infinite heart of God as well. We prepare our hearts so the Word God speaks within us will be able to be more perfectly attuned to the Word he speaks outside us. We prepare our hearts so that they may be more able to embrace their own place in the story which is God's Kingdom, their own seat at the Wedding banquet, their own role in the nativity of God-with-us in our world. In our own hearts the Word of God looks for an opening into our world; in our hearts God seeks a way to become personally present to his creation. But at the same time our hearts are summoned to rest in God's own heart, to allow deep to call to deep, and to be the everyday, day-in-and-day-out, kinds of mystics Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were. It is this double relationship to God's own Life that constitutes authentically human existence --- a kind of parabolic (parable-ish) existence which witnesses to and introduces others to the drama of communion we call Trinity --- and it is the birth of this kind of existence our continuing Advent preparations envision and facilitate.