Experience: the Crucible and the Garden

Everyday experience is the revelatory and “terri-fire-ing” crucible in which we are called by the Holy Spirit to repentance. As we answer the call with our “yes,” our judgments and judging are reduced to so much ash and dust. They cease. The crucible becomes the garden in which illumination grows from the “humus” of our previous convictions, by Gods’ mercy, the fertile earth of our humility.

“May He Who rose from the dead, Christ our true God, a good, loving, and merciful God, have mercy upon us and save us, through … the power of the precious and life-giving Cross.” The Divine Liturgy

“Why do you fear then to take up the cross, the way that leads to the kingdom? In the cross you are saved, revived, protected. In the cross you are showered with sweetness from on high, your mind is strengthened, your spirit rejoiced. In the cross is virtue’s sum, and perfect holiness. In the cross alone is the hope of life eternal, the soul’s salvation. So take up your cross and follow Jesus; and you will enter eternal life… For if you die with him, you shall also likewise live with him. If you are his companion in punishment, so shall you be in glory. Everything is founded on the cross… There is no other way to life, nor to true inner peace… Walk where you will, seek what you will; you will find neither a loftier way above nor a safer way below, but only the way of the holy cross.” The Imitation of ChristBook II, ch. 12, by Thomas a Kempis

The cross shows our judgments — our wisdom — to be what it is, silliness, folly, foolishness, and life-robbing.

[17] For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. [18] For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [19] For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.” [20] Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1.17-20)

Where and when shall this occur?

Experiences of suffering and death are, I am convinced, the best examples.These, and all others in their own way, are the creative edge of God’s saving work into which we are invited to participate as co-creators.

“I thought,” we say, “but know I know.”

“His death has had the very unexpected effect of making death itself look quite different. I believe in the next life ten times more strongly than I did. At moments it seems almost tangible. Mr. Dyson, on the day of the funeral, summed up what many of us felt, ‘It is not blasphemous’, he said ‘To believe that what was true of Our Lord is, in its less degree, true of all who are in Him. They go away in order to be with us in a new way, even closer than before.’” From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II

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