|Altar beside walkway near Cinque Terre, Italy|
Here is the devotional from Richard Rohr & CAC today:
This made me laugh - "...and I just told you." How loving, how personal, how direct.
When I came to the part that mentioned that "doing it right" makes us "fall in love with ourselves," and not with God, that made me stop. Um, yes, precisely. Who doesn't want to feel good about himself/herself? And the work which we do is often the vehicle for this - doing, producing, and having some good works or products to show for it makes me feel good.
I was raised this way - it's become "the American Way." And it's not a bad thing...it's just not the primary thing, not the only thing. It's possible that my book and video project have become a kind of ego-salve for me right now, just as the guild and raising awareness and funds for cancer research have been. They are good works, but for whom (Whom) are they being done? I'd like to think they are for God and my fellow man...and in thinking so, I feel good - about myself.
Seeking God and divine union is a different motivation than seeking to feel better about my own life, myself, or seeking relief from the pain of grief. Good works are good...but I pray not to let them make me feel independent of God. He is my life, my breath, my love...I am nothing without Him. Being human, most of our motivations and actions are a mixed bag, but it's helpful to be reminded to Whom I (we) belong.
"Many people not only lose the benefit, but are even the worse for their mortifications [i.e., sacrifices, abstensions]. It is because they mistake the whole nature and worth of them. They practice them for their own sakes, as things good in themselves; they think them to be real parts of holiness, and so rest in them, and look no further, but grow full of a self-esteem, and self-admiration for their own progress in them. This makes them self-sufficient, morose, severe judges of all those that fall short of their mortifications. And thus their self-denials do only that for them, which indulgences do for other people--they withstand and hinder the operation of God upon their souls; and instead of being really self-denials, they strengthen and keep up the kingdom of self. - William Law (1686-1761), "The Spirit of Prayer"
Ex 40:16-21, 34-38 says that "Moses did exactly as the LORD had commanded him. On the first day of the first month of the second year the Dwelling was erected. It was Moses who erected the Dwelling...He took the commandments and put them in the ark...as the LORD had commanded him. Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. Whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, the children of Israel would set out on their journey. But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward. In the daytime the cloud of the LORD was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey."
So for nearly 40 years, "in all the stages of their journey," everyone could clearly see the light at night, and could clearly read the daytime signs as to whether they were to stay where they were, or move ahead. How beautiful, to have directions so clear! And how interesting, that the glory of the Lord was so great that there wasn't room in the tent for Moses. That makes me smile at "ego," too...Moses had done a lot of listening to God, and after his calling, had devoted his life to God...but still, there wasn't room for Moses in that tent, because the glory of the Lord filled it. That fact might encourage appropriate awe and respect for the Lord.
A gentle reminder to the ego: it's not about you; it's about God (and God is Love).