day 32…relinquishing my persona

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Carrying on from yesterday...

Thomas Merton beautifully describes
what God is doing in the constant action
we call creation (note: creation isn't past tense
God is always in the act of creating who we are -
even this breath we are taking).

Merton writes:
He alone is the gentlest of loves:
whose pure flame respects all things.
God, who owns all things, leaves them to themselves.
He never takes them for His own,
the way we take them for our own and destroy them.

He leaves them to themselves.
He keeps giving to them, giving them all they are,
asking no thanks of them
save that they should receive from Him
and be loved and nurtured by Him,
and that they should increase and multiply,
and so praise him.

The gentleness of God's love hasn't a drop of possessiveness in it.
There's no hint of "that's not yours - that's mine".
There's no-demanding recognition -
" you better be grateful - you'd be nothing without me -
Get worshiping me pronto!"

Instead, the gratitude God seeks
is that creation is nurtured and loved
becoming more and more itself.

That for me is in part what it means
to allow ourselves to be known,
We get to know how God knows us.

That's not easy and can feel like a narrow road:
it can feel like putting something to death in us-
putting to death the self we idolize: our ego self.

Relinquishing our “persona” then
is to do with giving up our attachment to 
and our investment in 
the self that's focused on
what I've achieved,
what I've not been polluted by,
what I've accumulated,
how clever I am,
how holy I am,
how successful I am,
the self I'm happy to put on show
and can create some kind of legacy out of.

We take too seriously a self
that is nothing like the God
Merton describes above.

Learning that I am more than my ego self
takes time, effort, discovery, epiphany and grace – it’s a narrow road -
where we get to know our true self
the self God brings us to be,
The self that is pure gift:
my life, my consciousness, 
my love, and being loved,
All gift.
It turns out I'm a beloved creature.
My ego self wants to be the creator.

This breath, and the next one - gift, sheer gift
I am a gift. 
Let me say that again, 
I am a gift;
loved into existence.

The self we develop in school, work, relationships,
that’s gifted, and stable, isn’t bad - but it isn’t enough.

Deep down we know that.
Don't we recognize our complexity, and contradiction.
The self-that’s the self I want to justify.
The self-that’s in competition for attention.
The self-that’s slighted when not recognized.
The self that wants to be someone,
so others will value who I am – is an idol.  
It can't be know by God - because it's not real.

What does a human life look like
when completely inhabited by God?
Listen to Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"Jesus is there only for others.
His being there for others
is his experience of transcendence.
It is only his freedom from himself,
this being there for others, even to death,
that is the source of his omnipotence,
and omnipresence. Faith is participation
in this being there for others...our relation to God
is a new life in being there for others."

One of the safest ways human beings avoid the narrow road
and hide themselves from  what it's like
to become our true self
is by being "religious."

I think much of the rhetoric from the European
and American (North and South)
political/religious right,
proffers a "Christianity" 
that's the complete antithesis of Bonhoeffer's words.

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