Exploring Solitude: Meeting the Crucified One

God is simplicity and one-foldedness,
inaccessible height and fathomless depth,
incomprehensible breadth and eternal length,
 a dim silence and a wild desert.

So wrote John of Ruysbroeck in the 14th century.

God is also a man, whose name is Jesus,

born in a middle eastern city,

of a woman named Mary.

Firmly anchored in time and space,

he walked the paths of Nazareth,

ate,  and laughed,  and loved.

God is also this same man,

now beaten,  bleeding,  and dying,

executed on a cross.

For in Jesus

the Inaccessible Height and Fathomless Depth

had inserted

itself into

the messy specificity and limitation

of humanity,

and consented

to occupy

suffering,

injustice,

cruelty,

fear,

defeat,

and death.

So now,  all that suffers,  loses,  messes up,  and bleeds finds welcome in that dim silence and wild desert of the cross.  All that is lost or broken is gathered and folded into the height and depth and breadth and length of God. Every precious particle of God’s making  is held with infinite tenderness in the simplicity of love.

There are moments,  days,  even years for some,  where the work of solitude involves suffering.  Alone with God,  we are presented with painful truths. We are refined and purified.  We gradually learn to be present to God,  not on our terms,  but on God’s terms in the context of our own specificity.

This is the work of letting go and letting be. This is the journey of ever deepening faith and radical trust. This is the door that sets us loose to roam forever free.

During the observance of Holy Week,  the specificity of God made known in Jesus,  enters into the lonely anguish of surrender to the terms of his Father.  The one who has been surrounded by crowds and encircled by his chosen disciples,  makes the solitary journey into death to return to the heart of all being.

We find an account of this journey in the gospel of Mark.  Mark’s gospel is characterized by a simple,  direct,  unpretentious style.  The gospel has an urgency about it.  Mark’s  frequent use of the dramatic present tense contributes to the immediacy.  The emphasis is on the action – the deeds and words of Jesus – as he confronts and responds to the religious establishment,  the disciples,  and the crowds.  This action moves compellingly to the crucifixion.  The story unfolds in a hurry,  as though the very presence of Jesus has set in motion forces which lead inevitably to the cross.

Then at the cross,  in striking contrast to the preceding scenes,  Jesus becomes the receiver of the action in total surrender.  The syntax changes from active voice to passive voice,  as the Greek word,  paradidomai,  appears more and more frequently.  Paradidomai means handed over,  or to give into the hands of another,  to be given up to custody,  to be condemned,  to deliver up treacherously by betrayal.  This is the same word the gospels,  as well as St. Paul, use repeatedly to describe the crucifixion.

As the resurrected Jesus tells Peter on the lake shore,  there comes a time when we will be carried where we do not wish to go. (John 21: 18)  Then we find ourselves being handed over to our life circumstances,  the limits,  sins, injustices,  and frailties of human existence.

At the cross in Jesus the Limitless,  Inaccessible,  Unfathomable God makes things very plain, very simple:

Watch me. Trust me. Do it like this. All is forgiven. Surrender. Allow yourself to be carried into darkness. There is a place beyond your knowing or naming, where I am and you are. Follow me.

All transformation,  all redemption require moments such as these:

the passivity of the seed buried in the earth,

the passion of love poured out to the last dregs for the beloved,

the prostration of oneself in the dim silence and wild desert,

where all things are born anew.

The moral revival that certain people wish to impose will be much worse than the condition it is meant to cure.  If our present suffering ever leads to revival, this will not be brought about through slogans, but in silence and moral loneliness, through pain, misery and terror, in the profoundest depths of each person’s  spirit.      Simone Weil

 

Solitude Practice:

  • What do you need to surrender, let go of, or let be this week?
  • Not all, but much of our suffering may be tied to our defiant resistance to letting go and refusal to accept the suffering of self denial. Do you agree with Simone Weil that broad social change could be gained, not by imposition of morality, but through the struggle in the depths of individual souls?
  • What is it like for you to shift from being the prime mover and actor in your life story, to becoming the receiver of the action of others? How might God be handing you over this Holy Week?
  • Is there a relationship between your consent to being carried where you do not wish to go and experiences of healing and redemption in your life?

Next post in this series –  Exploring Solitude:  Leaving solitude, gone to Galilee.

______________________________________

 News for Praying Life Readers!

I am leading a workshop in April here in Topeka, KS. Hope to see some of you there!

Look and See: Nurturing a Shining, Festive Life of Prayer

Saturday, April 21, 2012
8:30-12:00
$20.00
First Congregational Church
1701 SW Collins, Topeka, KS  

Please register early to assure a place by calling or emailing First Congregational UCC. 785-233-1786; info@embracethequestions.com

 

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7 responses to “Exploring Solitude: Meeting the Crucified One

  1. Today is a day to read, be quiet, study, be quiet, write, be quiet – with my prayers coursing through it all. Profound sadness as I hold myself into Maundy Thursday and Prayer Vigil and Good Friday musings. I refuse to hurry to Sunday. Thank you for more food for my soul.

  2. I too have been feeling the sadness of lent. Yesterday found myself in sorrow for the polar bears on their shrinking homes. We carry this burden we are blessed to bear together.

  3. Rebirth
    Spring Creeps In
    Unexpected In the Dead of Winter
    Yet If Comes
    Gently and Slowly
    Urging the Blooms
    Exciting the Births
    Bringing Forth Transition
    Seeds Into Wildflowers
    Eggs Into Song Birds
    Cocoons into Butterflies
    Life Is Reborn
    Life Is Renewed
    Skies Brighten With Rainbows
    Grasses Green With New Sprouts
    An Angle’s Paintbrush
    After the Cold Sleep
    Fear and Doubt and Anger
    Replaced by Hope and Love and Peace
    Christ’s Promise of Renewal
    God’s Gentle Touch Upon a Soul
    © Milancie Adams
    Hammock Corridors (™)

  4. I AM SEEING THE NEWNESS OF LIFE COMING INTO THE WORLD . WHERE ALL WAS THOUGHT LOST IS BLOOMING HERE A NEW TURN OVER AND NEW BEGINNING HERE FOR EACH OF US WE LOOK ND SEE THE WONDER OF HIS LOVE ALL AROUND US IN EVERYTHING . TREES COMING TO LIFE AGAIN ,FLOWERS COMING INTO BLOOM AND OUR PRECIOUS LIFE TO CAN BE NEW AGAIN IN THE FATHER OF US ALL. TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD . MERCY AND GRACE ARE HERE ALWAYS FOR US . ALL BE BLESSED IN THIS KNOWLEDGE AMEN AMEN AMEN.

  5. What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your GOD? Micah 6:8

    Tread Lightly – So You hear the Silence
    And Tend the Voiceless
    For they are the most fragile
    But they have the most to Share!

    The gentle old willow bowed its head
    Swaying its branches to and fore
    A gentle breeze settled down a light mist of dew
    As the sun slowly slipped down beyond the horizon
    Cascading a burst of colors playing on the sparkling blades
    Down she nestled in the lush green carpet near the stream’s edge
    A smile spread across her tiny face as her eyes glowed with merriment
    Inhaling the scents of the opening buds and newly formed leaves
    Plucking a blade, tucking it between her thumbs she blew
    Whistling an enchanting tune
    Captivating winged ones forging for their evening meal
    No longer able to resist a curious blue one with red cap and green vest
    Settled on her lap answering her tune with his own
    Beckoning others into chorus
    Spreading a melody that paused others in wonder
    Of the oneness of the two species in perfect harmony

    Milancie Hammock Corridors Apr 2012

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