Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wandering The Straight Line

It’s hard to walk a straight line, to be totally true to God, to my most genuine self, to others. There are so many influences that cut in and run interference against such total self-surrender. Yet, it is to the depths of the pathway of total self-surrender that Christ, setting forth the example, calls humanity.

The liar of all liars though has so filled the world with leasing. He has constructed so many self-satisfying alternative pathways, so many deceptions, so many illusions. Truth can be difficult to see when staggering on paths leading in aimless circles.

When the light of truth does break through the clouds of confusion to present itself, it’s easy to choose some lesser and more inviting counterpart, one less challenging, one that makes fewer demands. We call it compromise. It’s something that none have any immunity to.

Compromise, in the context of spirituality, has nothing to do with choosing between the lesser of two evils. It has everything to do with choosing that which is truest over that which is merely a counterpart, something possessing enough of the truth to look real but, in reality, is only a mere reflection of the truth.

I’ll admit that lesser counterparts can be stepping stones that God uses to lead us, to bring us to something that is more genuine and complete. Equally, counterparts can turn out to be heavy lead weights of our own choosing, toxins in our minds and souls that diminish our sight, grinding tools that dull and blunt our capacities of receptivity.

I think one of the most refreshing things about being a practitioner of Benedictine spirituality is that it affords me the opportunity to avoid so many counterparts that, over the course of my life of struggling to be genuine, kept me from my most earnest desire. Not that I profess advanced degrees of accomplishment. However, the Rule of St. Benedict, and living in the spirit of the Rule, fashion an indelible straight line that I can see and follow.

It’s always there. It never changes or alters its course to satisfy some contemporary whim or fancy of my own. It’s not opaque. It keeps me from swinging wildly at most of the curve balls thrown at me, checks my tangents and tantrums before they get out of control to lead me where I don’t want to go.

It’s apparent to me when I wander off course. And I do wander a bit. I do happen to be a meanderer, something that I accept and am comfortable with. Sometimes I need to wander a little. Wandering a little can really be a healthy thing provided it doesn’t become a bear trap of a destination.

It’s always a simple thing though to retrace my steps and return to walking closer to the straight line that cuts across all the wandering pathways.