Whore of the Mundane

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Lent 1 (year B), February 26, 2012
“the devil and temptation”
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

St. Katherine's from the plain, David Roberts, detail

It’s a good thing that in meditation it’s important to gently bring yourself back to the Beloved, “without judgment or recrimination.” For one as passionate as I think I am, the humbling fact that the time I set aside solely for Divine Love fills up with mundane trivialities, makes me laugh at myself day after day. I usually end meditation with another cluster of laughs, saying aloud, “I REALLY DO love You, ya’ know!”

So goes my daily dose of desert.

After escaping from Egypt and before entering the land of their ancestors, the people of Israel sojourned in the desert for forty years. Here, once again, they became God’s people. Centuries later, Israel looked back at that time poetically as a honeymoon:

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. … And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, says the Lord, you will call me ‘My husband.’ …And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord. -Hosea 2:14, 15b-16a, 19-20

In meditation I’m like Hosea’s prostitute wife, Gomer. From time to time it’s interesting to watch the sort of thoughts I try to let go of. All of them trivial, silly, non-sequiturs. Not even a profound idea here or a poetic phrase there that I’d want to cling to. Not a thought over starvation in Somalia or rape in the Congo or even of friends in distress. I’m a whore of the mundane. Of what I forgot at the drug store. Of the phone call I forgot to put on my “to do” list. Nevertheless, may God reckon my distractions to me as righteousness! May God transfigure my inanities!

It’s comforting to read the book of Exodus. The forty years in the wilderness was anything but a honeymoon. But I know from decades of serious praying that the experience of Presence is often perceived in retrospect and not in the moment. Perhaps, someday, I’ll look upon this Lent as a turning point; an intimate dedication to “the one thing necessary.” In the meantime, I’ll keep praying, meditating, and probably laughing.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         *

Here’s the quote which inspired this meditation:

Therefore Jesus goes into the desert, therefore he fasts; therefore he leaves behind everything else that a man needs even for bare existence, so that for this once not just in the depths of his heart bu in the whole range of his being he can do and say what is the first and last duty of humankind – to find God, to see God, to belong to God to the exclusion of everything else that makes up human life. And therefore he fasts. Therefore through this cruelly hard act, this denial of all comfort, this refusal of food and drink, through the solitude and abandonment of the desert, through everything else that involves a rejection, a self-denial of the world and all earthly company, through all these he proclaims this fact: one thing only is necessary, that I be with God, that I find God, and everything else, no matter how great or beautiful, is secondary and subordinate and must be sacrificed, if needs be, to this ultimate movement of heart and spirit.

-Karl Rahner 1904-1984
The Great Church Year

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3 Responses to “Whore of the Mundane”

  1. rebrites Says:

    you are amazing. In a world or racket and noise, a sharp breeze of honesty. Thank you for a true moment of Lenten recollection…

  2. ammaguthrie Says:

    “sharp breeze” … I LOVE that!

  3. wordinthehand Says:

    I do get the laughing God – I have had some of the most ridiculous thoughts – I think God uses them when I am getting too serious – to bring me back to the importance of the mundane.

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