"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

19 January 2012

Borrowed Words (What is posted below was written by my mother-in-law, undated)

The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. ~Annie Dillard.

From my pew in the choir, I watched a father lay his infant son across his shoulder. The baby lifted his wobbling head and looked around; his hands slipped down into his father's jacket and were caught there, and the baby's head wobbled into his father's neck. Trapped by suit and shoulder, he lay still, peacefully hiccupping.

I should have, I know, been at my prayers, but the sermon of this father and child transfixed me. I thought: all the baby has is a shoulder, and it is all he needs, and all any of us needs. . .

I remembered then another infant with another parent I had seen in a toy store at Christmas time.

This baby was asleep in her blankets in a shopping cart, being pushed by her mother, who was at the same time pulling along a second cart piled high with toys for the infant, who, warmed by her soft blankets, lay oblivious to the encrustating snail house of plastic and metal her mother had begun building for her.

The clutter of the world finds its way to us,I thought, recalling also that on a day near Christmas I saw in a shopping mall a girl sitting on Santa's lap. As I walked past her I overheard only the words, "I want--"

In one of his Stories of God the poet Maria Rilke refers to a conversation with an invalid. Rilke tells him, "I know you are sad to be unable to leave your room. But isn't it also beautiful, that the world comes to you: whatever comes here becomes your world..."

We will experience in our youth the desire to control and to accumulate. But through the grace of God a time may come when we quietly let go of such desires, and allow the world to come gently to us, as to Rilke's invalid, in our quiet place; and it is then that we will become the recipients of this grace, that we will begin to learn the lessons contained in the minutiae of our lives, and, uncluttered, we will begin to see how we are at every moment walking on holy ground, surrounded by, swimming through, the love and presence of God.

At the end of his life my father was blind in one eye and weakened by kidney failure. He sat quietly in his favorite chair, with my mother always nearby.

There was nothing we could give him or do for him: he could eat very little; he could not read or concentrate to be read to.

But when we walked by him, he would reach out to us, and we would take his hand.

He had become at last like the infant he had once been on his father's shoulder: his world had narrowed back down to his own small body, and, for my father, our hugs and quiet words of love were, finally, all he needed.

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