Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"shine like the sun..."

Today’s gospel offers us the rich imagery of the sower. I can’t help but picture the illumination in the Saint John’s Bible of a Midwestern Jesus in blue jeans casting the good seed on the soil. Being the “good seed” is certainly a worthy goal for all Christians especially we who call ourselves “monastics.” This parable could encourage us to consider our importance in the building of the Kingdom or the ultimate concerns of the end time, but the verse that grabs my heart comes at the very end of the story. “Then the righteous will shine like the sun…” (Matthew 13:43)

This verse was the theme of the Diocesan Youth Conference this past weekend in Richmond. Imagine 500 rainbow tie-dye t-shirts proclaiming, “Shine like the Son.” Amazing! Many of you, who didn’t attend DYC, might be thinking of Thomas Merton’s mystical experience on the corner of 4th and Walnut. Merton, watching the people pass by at that intersection in downtown Louisville, realizes, in a moment of grace, that he loves all of them – these total strangers. He knows in that instant that any separation between us as human beings is an illusion. There are two accounts of this moment written by the monk himself. The first is an entry in a private journal in March of 1958. But it’s in the second recounting of this experience in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander that we get the full story. Thomas considers his vocation and the temptation to think that monastics are holier than everyone else. He meditates on the great mystery of the Incarnation and how that moment has forever sanctified our flesh. He writes:
“And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander

So, not only will the righteous “shine like the sun” at the end time, according to Thomas, we have already begun to shine. I believe this is true. I believe it because every now and then I see my sisters shine. Sometimes, it’s when we’re praying or singing. More often it happens in the everyday – a small act of kindness, a personal gift used freely and fearlessly for God’s glory or just a fleeting awareness that what we have together is more real than anything else I’ve ever had in my life. I’m fairly certain that most Christians have had many “Merton moments.” As we persevere in the monastery they become more frequent. We don’t need to look beyond one another for the GOD we seek. May our eyes be opened to the wonder of that holy presence among us. If we are faithful to The Rule and to community, we will surely "shine like the sun" - here-and-now.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki