by Gretchen Bailey, Alameda, California Companion
Prepositions are the last and most difficult words that incorporate themselves into our grammar as we acquire language. They are words of movement through space and time, yet we use these very words to describe our relationship with God. The Word lives within us, through us and throughout creation, yet we creatures of time and space frequently feel separate and alone. Perhaps that is our sin: denying our oneness with the Divine. This doubt enables us to feel separate, better than or worse than another. In frustration we hit, stomp, throw things, say the unspeakable, insult parents and children. We commit institutional murder, genocide, adultery and all manner of destruction. We flip perfectly good people off. Would we do any of these things if we truly grasped that God is inseparable from Us, in Everyone and in All Things?
Perhaps some of us tend toward feelings of isolation more than others. Eventually we need to take the heaviness and deposit it somewhere before it becomes part of a carefully constructed wall that we will put together, brick-by-brick, until we are totally convinced of our own aloneness. Bill Wilson knew this when he and a Jesuit friend developed the Twelve Steps. Based on the Examens of St. Ignatius, the steps include the of telling your story, revealing and sharing your hurt and shame, first to yourself, then to others so that the community might help you heal as you seek to restore balance. Who is to say that there is not some form of the sacrament of Confession taking place at such meetings in church basements, storefronts, back rooms and upper rooms? What a gift this process is for those who do not know the sacrament of Reconciliation. Reconciliation is the process of discovering and admitting that the Divine Blood runs through you, through all people, all things, always. You have to sweat through your story, your shame until you realize that your shame has a small “s” and that your Self has a capital “S” because the Divine is delineated with an initial capital letter.
Most parents have experienced the Prodigal story at some level. Some people tire of its telling, but if you are among those who have experienced the addiction or alcoholism of a loved one, and that loved one embraced recovery, well, there is nothing on this earth like that. To see the eyes change from windows of darkness to mirrors of hope and light; to see an emaciated body become whole; to see sallow skin become healthy, rosy; to hear clear words of hope rather than words of shame, hate and despair. That is the stuff of the Divine at work. Reconciliation is a journey that starts when you are sorry for what you have done and continues as you tell your story, perhaps with hot tears, a cold sweat or goose bumps. Your flesh is remembering that it is One with Those who listen.
If you are a spouse who has broken your beloved’s heart, surely you know shame. If you are a spouse who has been forgiven, there is nothing like that. That is the stuff of the Divine at work. I know love like that from another human being, and God’s love is infinitely more. Imagine Christ drawing lines in the dust, and no one casts a stone. Imagine your beloved drawing lines in the dust. Never forget how good it feels to be forgiven.
We reconcile to remember the Divine within us. We confess in order that we embrace all that is good and all that is imperfect within, because that is how we are made, and God saw It was good. When you tell your story, you are confessing the covenant, embracing yourself as God’s Child, with God’s blood running in your fast-beating heart. God hears your story and your fast-beating heart. God is your fast-beating heart. Your warm tears are the same temperature and salinity as the water that flowed from His side.