The Human Animal
To make me do the thing I will, I won't.
Facing front, it's back I turn
to scorn the right intent.
The worse I am, the better do. Against
my own impulse I plot; and overthrown
rise up to govern all I have undone.
To live my life, I've lost it. Or reversed,
the greatest loss was living most;
the best I did was least.
By counter causes, grown then capable,
I've come to some short pass. And passing still
go on to learn what's gone, and what I will.
– Jane Mayhall
Now, I'll be the first to admit I have no idea what the author's intent was for the above poem. I won't pretend I've got a handle on the inner conflicts she may have been wrestling that prompted the writing of this piece. All I know, is that upon reading it, I thought immediately of saint Paul's, I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do, passage in Romans. I thought of having to die in order to live, being made strong in my weakness, the first being last and the last being first, and God choosing the foolish things of this world to shame the wise (I Cor. 1:27). I thought about how impossible it is to balance faith and logic – how a belief (an uncompromising belief) in Christ, in a risen Christ, no less, outright demands the surrender of my dependence upon rationality as a gauge for determining the legitimacy of a calling to deny myself and follow this Christ, around whom my whole world (my every plan, my every loss, my every breath, my every blessing) revolves. I thought about how faith (a faith unconstrained by assumptions and literal/reasonable interpretations) defies formulism, making it awfully hard to package up neatly, attractively, and sell to prospective "believers."
In many ways, I make a lousy witness with my, "I don't knows," jagged edges and "What can I tell you? Christianity is an all consuming, terribly demanding, wildly mind-blowing, and agonizingly mysterious affair," kind of explanations. Why do I believe in eternal life, that Christ, Himself, is actually present in the Eucharist I ache for all week long, in the empty tomb, the intercession of the saints, the Holy Trinity… the whole shebang? Why do I struggle to believe, I should say, for truly it is a life long battle, despite the severe tsk-tsking I receive from an ever increasing number of enlightened realists denouncing my stubborn convictions as naive at best, destructive at worst – despite the plentiful examples out there of various forms of "Christianity" so ridiculously cliche, heartbreakingly corrupt or finger-pointingly incensed to the degree that mercy and humility are forgotten altogether?
I guess I just can't help it. Deep in my gut is a gnawing hunger for Christ, for Christ uncensored – for Truth unrestricted. The spark was already there and I, well…I've chosen to fan it into flames, rather than snuff it out only to then search endlessly for an inferior means with which to warm that enduring coldness in my soul. That, and I have found Love - "Good Samaritan" love, "Prodigal Son" love, "Turn the other Cheek," sacrificial, unconditional, irrational, Divine Love to be more satisfying, fulfilling, and peace inducing than anything I have ever encountered.
To live my life, I've lost it.
That's my "testimony," I suppose – one fraught with way more questions than answers. Are you interested in emptying yourself of your self-centered passions, your ideals, your personal agendas, in spending the rest of your days with knees bruised and bloodied from taking a step or two forward, then falling down, then praying for the strength to get up again and start the process all over, in sacrificing all kinds of time to participate in the services and sacraments of the Church? Are you interested in being rooted in Truth – in Truth and Love – so that when hurricanes and torrential rainstorms, or even petty disappointments, blow full-force upon you, you will remain upright and fruitful? Would you like to know if lasting contentment – contentment completely unrelated to the present circumstances, either pleasant or miserable, in your life – really exists? Are you ok with forfeiting your preconceived notions about…well, everything and everyone, that you might learn (Believe me, it takes a long, long while!) to pray honestly, "Thy Will Be Done?"
Yes, despite my rambling?
Then, Come and See.