“Waiting On The Night To Fall”, by “Casting Crowns”, from the album “Thrive” (2014)
The fundamental binary choice every human makes is to love the self or not, to love the other, or not. We ALL have to make that choice regardless of our desires and ambitions.
Unlike the Angelic creatures, the Heavenly host, who exist in God’s eternal now and whose choices are instantly for eternity and irrevocable, mankind has been gifted by our Divine Father with a lifetime, an existence within time, a time for rousing, a time for choosing.
Someone famous and holy once remarked that “our entire life is but a single night in a bad hotel”. Another remarked “What does it matter in the light of eternity, “Quid hoc ad aeternitatem” in Latin. And yet, isn’t the love of self our “natural state? Don’t we love “our” problems.
The tiny “personalness” of them, the importance and urgency, the “zest” they give to us in our special unique existence. How are we doing today, considering the alternative, don’t the problems make us feel alive?
Don’t I actually love the never ending blizzard of bills I can never pay in total, the surly complaining wife, the angry dismissive daughter, the shabby apartment, perpetually under renovation of some sort or other, the old beater of a vehicle, 300,000 miles and still truckin’, likely, more and more, to be buried in it.
Don’t I cherish my shivering pains, cramps, swellings, aches and itches, numbness and tremors, the grim brooding of never to be paid off debts, the fears of the business failure in an economy destroyed by others, these favorite fears that role through my mind when I find myself awake and contemplative at 2:00 AM?
Most especially do I not relish the dark thread of fear that I might not have been a good dad, the feeling sometimes that maybe there was a better husband for my wife if only she had hung in the game a little longer.
And the one that haunts me every minute of the blessed week, month, year, the health and joy of my kid, and the fragility of her future. The “personal” special problems that prove I am still alive and kicking, that I still matter somehow to someone, sometimes. Don’t I love the self image of “soldiering on”, to “persist doggedly”, no matter what, “never give up, never give up”?
Are not all these “problems” simply a manifestation of “Love of self”? Alternatively, “Love of others” is a way of accepting all these “problems” if accepted with humility and meekness, without taking offense and building the castle of self love higher, of refraining from claiming special victim status, and ceasing to worry about the fairness of life.
I am starting to realize that each life “time” is but a divine “wake-up call” from God’s switchboard. We each have an unavoidable and immensely important “meeting” to get to “in the New Dawn”, at the end of this single night in a bad hotel.
During that lifetime we humans each are shaken to our very depths, so that we may wake up to understanding the truth of ourselves. The primary condition for a fruitful and rewarding lifetime is renunciation of attachment, surrender of self, detachment from all the things of this world, this one night.
It seems a hallmark of Truth that it always believes and expects the best of others and acts accordingly. It also seems a hallmark of untruth that it always believes and expects the worst of others and acts accordingly.
The measure of every institution and organization is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person, made in God’s own image and likeness, the image and likeness of his Son, on Whom we were modeled.
Man must abandon all his self centered dreams, his conceit, his arrogance, all the pretense with which he hopes to deceive himself and others, his default narcissism. If he fails to do this, brutal reality will take hold of him and rouse him forcefully in a way full of both anxiety and suffering.
Life can be difficult for those who don’t fall in line and bow to the religion of the day, the generally accepted wisdom of their society, the Barabbas of the moment. It is always easier to go along with the crowd. To just get to the end, of the day, of the week, of the year … of the life?
This is even true when the crowd embarks upon an evil venture. As long as we can avoid being blamed, being held accountable, then its all just OK, right?
I was just following orders, I just pushed my wheelbarrow, I just handled the doors, I just scheduled the trains, I just shoveled the coal, I don’t make policy, I wasn’t at that meeting, there were no minutes, I don’t remember, I didn’t know …
Witness the results yesterday of the Irish referendum on the acceptability of infanticide as social policy. And of course, eventually, euthanasia, the natural next step everywhere else, especially here in Canada. And why not Ireland? Self or Other?
But we still have to go to that meeting,
“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.“ (John 21:18)
And so we have to make that choice, self or other … Self or Other … ask not for whom the bell tolls.