A few brief thoughts, but first this Thomas Merton quote:
“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”
I love this quote because it so full of the Good Friday drama in which Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion and death played out. Given all we know from Scripture, it’s pretty apparent Jesus felt his life’s work had failed as he hung beaten and bloody on the Cross. If he had a clue about the glory ahead of him he sure disguised it pretty well. But that didn’t stop him from being gracious and charitable to the end (Luke 23:43).
Over the last year or so I’ve found myself rebelling against the idea of boundaries in terms of how my life should be lived and to what end. I look at myself at the age of 59 and think, “what do I want out of the rest of my life?” And I think the same for Tracey. Fact is, we have no children, and, outside of the monstrous debt we’re working hard to eliminate once and for all, no obligations to anyone but ourselves and those we love. Jesus refused to be constrained by the social and religious orders of his day; he knew they had corrupted God’s teachings in return for wealth and position within the social order of the time. Jesus had a radical view of how the society he lived in needed to be turned upside down; why shouldn’t anyone of us seek the same thing?
Debt is a killer, both morally and psychologically. Not just because you’re tossing the dice and betting that you can live long enough and live healthy enough to see the day when you are beholden to no one, but because during that time of debt you are beholden to your job and the ability to make money to pay down that debt. It’s OK, I suppose, if you enjoy your job (as I do), but in this day and age nothing is carved in stone; all it takes is some bottom-line, bow-tied corporate bum-kisser to look at your name on a printout and put a check-mark next to it and you’re whacked. I’ve told Tracey that eliminating our debt is the moral imperative of our time, and I believe that. There are so many causes and institutions I would love to help support, but until we’ve eliminated our debt that is not possible. All the more reason to be debt-free.
More than anything else, Jesus taught his followers to see and seek the Glory of God in everything. I’d like to think that over the past year especially I’ve gotten better at trying to find time each day for contemplation in order to see and experience the beauty of God’s creation in everything around me. It’s not an easy thing to do: Jesus said you cannot follow two masters, but that’s what separates the saints from us mere mortals; that’s what (to quote George Harrison) “living in the material world” is all about. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to try living my life as a monastic, but I also love all those things the material world offers: hitting golf balls, Mexican food, cocktails on the patio, Vegas, baby. I’m no saint, for sure, but I’d like to think that more often than not my heart is in the right place. If you seek love amongst truth and truth amongst love I don’t see how you can go wrong.