Monday, October 17, 2011

Can a Church pass through the eye of a needle?

Are you listening? Really listening?

Unless you accept God’s kingdom, here among you, with the simplicity of a child, you’ll never see that you’re already in it.

Jesus asked “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter into God’s kingdom – to walk out the door, out of the box – and into the freedom of God’s Kingdom?

It’s like trying to get a church through the eye of a needle.

George had lived in the same house all his life. He was born there and his father had been born there before him. It was a big old house, built by the best craftsmen of the day.

All of George’s most precious memories had to do with this home. His birthdays, his wedding day, the birth of his own five children, the death of his beloved parents. His friends and extended family had come to this grand old house to celebrate and to mourn with him.

The house held all these shared memories. And it also held memories for George of private quiet times. Times in the middle of the night when his heart was troubled, when he had some great decision to make, when he felt so very alone – the house was a comfort. It spoke to him. It held him. It knew him. The house gave him solace the way a Mother comforts a child.

He never felt so alone as when his wife of thirty years left him. She told him that she needed to be free. That he and the house no longer held any passion for her.

“Weren’t the comforts of memories enough to sustain her?” he asked incredulously.

“No, there is something calling to me – something wild and untamed. Something unexplored and unknown -but also close to my heart and precious.”

She explained these things to her husband’s sad blank expression…

“I only know that if I don’t reach for it, go for it, I’ll feel that I have betrayed my own best Self. I have this feeling that God has something more in store for me – and that if I don’t pursue it God will be disappointed.”

She felt like she’d have as much success explaining it to the family dog.

To George, all meaning and purpose were wrapped up in the container that had always held him, served him.

How could another place offer anything more? How could another place replace what he had here? It never occurred to him to sell off the house and join his wife on her adventure. To exchange the known comforts of home for a search for the unknown seemed too high a price to pay. To exchange security for risk seemed a sacrilege to his parent’s memory.

And so George learned to live alone in his big old house. The neighbours who would come and visit and help him with chores slowly moved away. He had to hire in help to take care of the place.

The extra costs were chipping away at his retirement funds. More and more he asked himself the question “Would his days outlast his funds, or would his funds run out before his time?”

George’s children would visit too. They’d rush in and tell him stories of their lives, complain about the challenges, boast of their successes, wonder why he wanted to stay in this big old place alone?

He thought maybe one of them would like to take over the house? But no, they had new houses with all the modern conveniences and appliances to serve their busy lifestyles… “why not sell this house and get a condo?” they asked - knowing the answer before they asked. 

So, they’d take a stroll down memory lane together and then they’d rush off to follow their guiding star, each in their own direction, towards some distant unknown destination.

It was one clear silent night after a Thanksgiving weekend. After the last of the turkey leftovers had been sandwiched and boiled and casseroled away. The night air was crisp with a frost descending. The harvest moon had all but gone. George knew that his evenings out on his beloved front porch were numbered so he put on a jacket and went out to see the stars.

Looking out into dark night strewn with diamonds it seemed a dark curtain was pierced with pinpricks to reveal a wondrous white light beyond. It felt like everyone he knew had gone off to follow one of those stars. So many different directions to pursue, so many guiding lights to follow. George wondered which one was his? Was there a star up there calling to him?

And with that question, a question he had never asked before, he got an answer. He fixed his eye on a star just above the western horizon and his heart leapt.

He felt the electric spark in his chest - that caused blood to pump through his veins - was in some way connected to that distant light.

He knew that the Creator who had caused that star to twinkle in its place had also caused that spark to first jump in his mother’s womb. That spark had become the twinkle in his eye that made his mother laugh.

He knew that for all the comforts of the fires he’d kindled in the hearth of his big old house – those fires  would all go out. But the spark in his chest was connected to that distant star in a way that was eternal.

And George realized - perhaps for the first time - perhaps what he had long forgotten -  that to be alive is to reach for the stars – a star – his heart’s desire.
That to pursue it was why he was here. That within him was the call to reach further out beyond his comforts for a prize that was worth risking everything for. That star, that desire was not a fire in a hearth that would go out in the night.

That star, that desire, was a fire from beyond that would never expire, that would sustain his journey, provide for his needs, care for his weary feet – for as long as he followed its light.

So George, facing west, took his first baby step of discovery.

Q: The difference between being a senior and being an elder?

A: Elders are those who have mastered the art of  “letting go”.

Are you listening? Really listening? 

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