You know by now that I love Richard Rohr. I recently ordered some books from Amazon.com, and among them was one of his, called Things Hidden, with the subtitle Scripture as Spirituality. I am going to share a quote that he has inserted before the introduction. It is from St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022):
What is this awesome mystery that is taking place within me? I can find no words to express it; my poor hand is unable to capture it in describing the praise and glory that belong to the One who is above all praise, and who transcends every word... My intellect sees what has happened, but it cannot explain it. It can see, and wishes to explain, but can find no word that will suffice; for what it sees is invisible and entirely formless, simple, completely uncompounded, unbounded in its awesome greatness. What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as one, received not in essense but by participation. Just as if you lit a flame from a flame, it is the whole flame you receive.
Maybe that has something to do with my response to the requests for directions. This quote recalls my experience of being in the hospital with Katie, utterly dumbfounded by her diagnosis. "My intellect sees what has happened, but cannot explain it. It can see, and wishes to explain, but can find no word that will suffice..." Looking for the love of God in that situation, finding it, yet not being saved from the horrors; being transformed day-by-day into I-know-not-what. All I know is that the words "The totality recapitulated as one, received not in essense but by participation. Just as if you lit a flame from a flame, it is the whole flame you receive" describe the experience of transformation, for me, today.
Being told, and believing, the story of the incarnation and the cross are not the same as receiving them by participation in the experience. Accompanying your child through the treatment of cancer, and to the end of her life, and living without her here any longer, are (to me) receiving by participation. This is not to glorify it; this is simply stating what I see as the truth about the experience. No one could walk that path for Katie; no one could walk it for me. Sometimes the only possible way to learn is by living.