Thursday, May 08, 2008

Our Hope

If you think about it, we don't have to look too far to see on the faces of our fellow human beings a profoundly simple truth. When properly understood, it's a truth that can really liberate us and start some deep healing. The truth is: we are living in a state of exile.

... But certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of 'exile.'
- J.R.R. Tolkien


Separation, death, divorce, heartache... We've all tasted this bitter cup. Drive down a few blocks in any forgotten corner of a city, spend some time in a bus station or a DMV. Listen to the news ANY time of day. Look at our movies, so many of which seem soaked in blood and lust. We're crippled by our fallen condition, and we look up and wonder if there is any way out. "It is what it is" we mumble.

Oftentimes, we are removed, distant, doubtful, cynical. Has life turned out the way we dreamed it would, playing in the school yard, with our little crushes, and our wonder and awe at the smallest butterfly or bug making its way along the path? What happened to that sense of home, of happiness, of seeing the universe as a big playground with God as our Daddy always smiling at us? Our experiences have weathered us, soaked us with the sense of homelessness.

"We are on the wrong side of the door" in the words of C.S. Lewis. This side of the wardrobe is dingy, drab, and seems more often just a bundle of old coats and mothballs. Nothing so new and dazzlingly clear as Narnia's cold ice castles and verdant, emerald fields full of dryads and centaurs. We're we just delusional children? Unrealistic? Naive to think that the universe was made in music? Foolish to think we could ever get back inside? Go home again?

Well, if this were all there is... why would we even ask those questions?

Last Thursday was the feast of a homecoming. A return of biblical proportions... Jesus ascended, was lifted up, soared up up and away... out of this mess and back Home! Now He "sits at the right hand of the Father" (that's biblical for an intimate share in the Power and Love of the One) and now.... we have a way in.

No longer exiles, we have a Man inside! This next truth is almost too much to swallow, so drink a glass of grace to help it go down easier..... THERE IS A HUMAN BODY IN HEAVEN (two in fact!)

Jesus and Mary, with their whole selves; arms and legs, hearts and bones, eyes and ears, breathing somehow that air of Deep Heaven, and looking out somehow with immortal eyes! They are IN. Is this insane or what?! And they, like sentinels, stand at the "Door" of that Undiscovered Country and wait for us, their children, who can and should believe that the fairy tales are much nearer the truth than we ever thought possible...

"The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility.... in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved....
- St. Paul, Romans 8:16-24
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