Sunday, May 1, 2011

Overflowing Grace

"Pain is beauty." Even in saying that, I am hiding from and putting walls up against my pain and I thought I was past all that. I have already begun this grace-filled journey. Pain is not beauty. Pain is messy, dirty, uncomfortable, and horrifying. But there is grace to be found. I learned last year to hold my pain and to allow others to hold it with me. I learned to be in solidarity with others in their pain and to feel it like my own. Still, it takes constant effort to continue to face it, and not only face it, but walk through it and feel it. And why do I keep choosing to welcome my pain as a visitor? Because it is where Grace always meets me and sits with me in solidarity. Somehow I always am able to carry Grace with me long after the overwhelming pain has taken its leave. Sure, there is lingering grief, there always is, but Grace is always stronger. It is who I am choosing to be and who I am becoming.

Recently I have been dwelling on the story of Adam and Eve. Christians tell this story the same way most of the time. The serpent tricked Eve, Eve gave the apple to Adam, they both realized they were naked and hid from God, God found them and punished them with banishment and death. Right? Isn't that basically how we have all heard it? Adam and Eve disobeyed God and now all of humanity is cursed. Simple justice, right? But what if that isn't the story at all? And what if the story had happened differently? What if Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit, but instead of hiding from God, had run to God and told him what they did? What if they had fallen before him and confessed their broken trust right away? Or what if they never ate of the tree at all? What if they had said, "Sorry serpent, but we have to talk to God about this first," and then went to God with all of their questions and doubts and asked him to explain himself?

How interesting it is that the very first thing Adam and Eve are ashamed of is their nakedness! Nakedness is a symbol of ultimate vulnerability. They were just as naked before they ate the fruit, but as soon as they are aware of their own vulnerability they are suddenly ashamed enough to hide. Before, there was nothing to hide, they were completely vulnerable and open in their relationship and trust with God and one another. But they were lied to, they doubted, they decided that their relationship with God wasn't enough, and they chose to break it and then hide from it. Their sin wasn't about the act of disobedience. It wasn't about breaking rules, do's, don'ts, should's, and shouldn'ts. To simplify it and make our relationship with God merely about obedience and disobedience does nothing by stagnate our trust in the One who loves us and offers grace abundant. They had a choice to choose trust in and relationship with God but they chose their laws, institutions, and "knowledge of good and evil." Most Christians I meet today really haven't learned much from Adam and Eve. We still very much like our laws and institutions.

In my own struggles over my life choices, my relationships, my sexuality, my vocation, my art, etc, I am finding that rules don't work for me. I don't want the knowledge of what is good and what is evil, I simply want to choose to be in relationship with God and trust that the Divine moves in me and through me and all around me. I am learning to trust in the Divine spirit that lives in me and in my own character and am finding that Grace really is an overflowing cup offered to every soul to drink from. And it is never emptied.

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