After a few more days of mulling over my experience at Vacation this year, and after talking with my friend Tami, I've moved further ahead in my understanding of what happened to me there. I want to offer just a bit more clarity for anyone concerned about my sense of "what I deserve" from God (as I mentioned below), or from my friends in particular or Communion & Liberation in general.
I wish to be clear that this moment of seeing my heart as "black" and perceiving a chasm between myself and what I desired was not a psychological 'low self-esteem' thing, nor were my fears due to any perceived slights or rejection on the part of anyone at the Vacation. I knew that, on the basis of my experience of the several days before, anything I chose to share would be given room and appreciated by the group. In the same moment that I felt this deep unworthiness, I did not doubt that I was loved. This produced a new thought; it challenged me to entertain the possibility that I could be accepted and loved even more deeply, beyond what I thought I could earn by being entertaining or being nice to people.
I believe that this opening up of my heart to a new sort of hope allowed me to see further into the great depths of my need for the Infinite Mystery – to really feel its force in my soul. If I had sung my song during the assembly reflection time and brought the house down, brought grown men to tears, even had everyone on the carpet prostrate and worshipping me – this would not have satisfied my desire. What I saw so starkly in that moment was that the answer to the needs of my heart was beyond my grasp – beyond any human grasp. The source of the beauty, love, and grace that I saw in the people around me wasn’t in them; as they spoke, their hearts became windows into the Beyond, where all those good things live in their fullness. The only way I could possibly come to possess that goodness and love in its fullness was to beg God to give it to me, somehow. He would have to give; I could only receive.
Because we are finite beings, I think we often engage in a mental reduction of our relationship with God to the sort of social reciprocity we expect with one another. When we go to Mass, and Christ miraculously shows up in the appearances of bread and wine – he doesn’t have to do that every time. He chooses to do that, every time, for us. He doesn’t owe it to us – not for any moral or theological reason. He gives Himself in response to our prayer, asking for Him. His love for us is active and intentional – never grudging, never assumed – always simply a gift.
(H/T: Photo by Joe Soprani)