Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tohu Va Vohu revisited

I woke up with a strange prayer on my lips today. It was a sort of prayer for blankness, a wordless plea to be stripped of all.

I fell asleep last night after a wonderful dinner with Jesse and Amy, and our conversation rang and rang in my head as I slept. We spoke of the provision of God, the timeliness of the comings and goings of his spirit, and the limitless love of his son. Of course, we also talked a lot about dumb things we did growing up and dumb things we plan on doing in the future. There was crass dinner-table regaling of my brother's violent, vomitous reaction to a road-stop ham sandwich between peaking fourteeners in the Rockies, of the uncertain thought processes that led Jesse and I and our roommate, Matt, to venture off on a 4-hour hike into the Appalachians at dusk with a flashlight and a hatchet ("Wow, I didn't see that sheer cliff face inches from the trail when we passed by this way last night...), and brief descriptions of the various media that we each possess which could, in one fell swoop, bring any of our political aspirations to a swift and decisive halt.

And through all of this, it's being revealed to me just what an intimate front-row seat our savior takes for all of these moments. I'm so thankful for all of the wonderful people that have surrounded me since birth. These relationships are proof of the provision of God in my life, even before I knew where to attribute the blessing.

So, today, as I let thoughts flow and invited Christ in, he began to encourage a willingness to purge. It's been a month now since this rapturous Love first seized my heart, reclaiming all of my life and trials. Not a long time, but long enough for God to come in and place a yearning for cleansing, complete and final. I just want every dark corner of my soul exposed. I want every closed door open to Christ's transformational presence. Some things may enter back in to my life and co-habitate with him after he makes his presence complete, but I want nothing there to impede the move-in process.

Through this meditation, the phrase Tohu Va Vohu came back to mind, illuminated in a different way. Heretofore, I've understood the Hebrew phrase as 'shapeless and void,' or 'utter chaos,' as found in the first book of Genesis, where "the earth was tohu va vohu, and the spirit of God hovered of the surface of the deep." I was given a new picture of this scenario - the new, fresh Earth, covered over in water like a peaceful sunrise lake, unconsciously waiting for the presence of God to descend upon it in creative power and take up domain in all it's vastness, filling it with wonders. What a wonderful place to be - empty like a deep exhale before moving the first box into a new apartment. Nothing but potential and excitement, and the knowledge that the good stuff is yet to come. Only all we have to do is wait on God to do the moving. We just have to sit and wait and be Tohu Va Vohu until God is ready to do his thing.

This comes as a stark contrast to the painful, tumultuous place the chaos of formation and transformation can be. What a blessing.

Going to meet Klee for a last breakfast before I ship out. More to come.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Revolutionary Love.

Ian and Justin and I went to the Belcourt theatre last night to see CHE, a film based on revolutionary Marxist, Ernesto Guevera. Incredible film. It was separated into two parts, which played out very much like two separate films. I've read reviews that Part One was "much better than" Part Two. I disagree. Part Two is a much tougher story, granted. But to say it is inferior is like saying "I like Che's Cuban revolution better than his Bolivian, because it was successful."

These films are well made. Soderbergh's direction is beautiful, and stylized, although not remotely concise (hence the 4.5 hour combined running-time). Benicio Del Toro portrays Guevera as a passionate, altruistic leader - a compelling perspective, opposed by many.

I left struck by one part of the story in particular. In an interview later in his life, Che was asked what it meant to be a revolutionary. He responded:

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.

I'm left to ponder his response in light of my coming journeys. Ideologically, Guevera and I part ways in a few clutch areas, namely Marxism, faith, and the concept of redemptive violence. Ergo, I find it very interesting how we can arrive at two very different courses of action while claiming the same impetus. I think that the difference HAS to be faith.

Until recently, I fantasized about the idea of dying with a gun in my hand, in pursuit of some transcendent good, and maybe taking some opposition down with me. Through meditation and prayer I continually find this scenario less appealing. I can only attribute this movement to the grace of God, the work of His Spirit, and the gift of salvation offered by His Son. I can no longer conceive that anyone ever born to this earth is any more or less guilty of greed, hatred, betrayal, scorn, or oppression than myself. I've also seen the radical transformation that can come from forgiveness.

I'm left thinking, even if Faith were hypothetically not a factor, what would be a greater manifestation of Love on this planet: A traitor held accountable for his treason and put do death, or a coward welcomed back into the fold, embraced and forgiven? Both are contagions, but I wager violence begets violence, perpetuating self-righteous scorn and its pitfalls, while forgiveness alone has the capacity for transformation and restoration.

Saul wasn't struck down for his violent persecution of early Christians. He was illuminated by a life-changing encounter with God and transformed, even given a new name. This new creation, Paul, went on to be one of the most radical, world-changing revolutionaries the world has ever seen, showing people one-by-one the Love that brought him home and made him whole, and set the world on fire with this contagious Love. Love and forgiveness this limitless is only possible through our omnipotent Creator.

So I guess that's my goal: to hinder as little as possible the Love that breathes into this life, moment by moment, from my God. It's raging and all-consuming, and with any grace it'll scorch out everything contrary within me. And if I do go out in a blaze of gunfire as my earlier vision depicted, I pray I'm standing on top of the wreckage of our self-righteous bickering, screaming my bloody lungs out of the Love that renders all debts paid-in-full.

*****SPOILER ALERT******

Here's where I'm reminded again of Del Toro's depiction of Che. Before his execution, he's asked what good will come of his efforts when his forces have failed and the people he's fought to free deny and betray him. Steadfast, Che responds.

Maybe our failure will wake them up.