Reason #10: It is the path to completion
"In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” - St. Matthew 3:1-3"Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, 'The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’” - St. Luke 17:20-21
In music, there is this wonderful principle of “suspension"; where the listener’s emotions are caused to rise in expectation and hope of resolution of this slightly discordant melody. In fact, musicians and composer refer to this transition as “resolving” the note.
This principle is also found in poetry, literature and almost any great form of storytelling that engages us emotionally. It is a principle that resonates with something deep within us; it is something natural and “right."
It seems to be an undeniable characteristics of our humanity that we all seek to be resolved - to be complete, fulfilled. We feel very deeply that happiness or contentment should be our right. Many of us yearn for it and spend our lives looking for it; some through relationships, some through their career or accomplishments, some through the unfortunate route of drugs or alcohol, and others through religion or spirituality.
IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD
My personal search for resolution has been relentless and sometimes very frustrating. For me, it was if I was trying to stand on my own shadow. I studied and embraced literally hundreds of different belief systems and practices in what I now see as a pointless attempt at “owning” the truth about my place in reality; the “meaning” of it all, and the countless other expressions used for trying to “get there."
I had rejected Christianity very early on in my search. Not because of Jesus Christ, but because of the behavior of his current day followers. I viewed Christianity as a failure in terms of a philosophy; it was simply impossible to do what Jesus said, and as such, the so-called “followers of Christ” that I encountered seemed to spend too much time justifying their own bad behavior as being "the influence of sin,” while claiming God’s forgiveness and favor through grace, while condemning everyone else’s actions as being the result of their NOT being Christian!
My spiritual life, for a long time, was lived like someone who expected a simple answer, but woke up in a vast library with unlimited shelves of information and opinions on the different aspects of the question.
- I circled through the Baha’i Faith, Meher Baba, Sri Chinmoy, Hinduism, Evangelical Protestantism, Buddhism, Yoga, Meditation, Sufism, Advaita, Atheism, and back through them all again.
- I’ve read T. Lobsang Rampa, Alan Watts, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Krishnamurti, Franklin Jones (Bubba Free John), Swami Muktananda, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Idries Shah, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Rajneesh (Osho), Hazrat Inayat Khan, Thich Nhat Hanh, The Dalai Lama, Kalu Rinpoche, Lama Surya Das, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Anthony DeMello, Richard Rose, and the latest works by Tony Parsons, Jeff Foster, Scott Kiloby and countless others in the world of spirituality and self(less)-discovery.
I did all that because I thought that truth was something I could bring in from the outside of me - as if perhaps in one turn of a phrase or through the skillful words of another I could resolve myself from this suspended state in reality.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Then, in 2005, on the recommendation of a fellow seeker, I stepped with curiosity into a small Eastern Orthodox Church hidden deeply in the middle of an old neighborhood in Cincinnati. I had discovered the core of Christianity; Ancient Catholic Orthodoxy.
I found out:
- That there have always been real living mystics and saints in Christianity; not just in Hinduism.
- That Christians practice meditation and contemplation; not just Buddhists and Sufis
- That there is an ancient wisdom tradition in Christianity; not just in the Gurus of Hinduism, the Lamas of Buddhism, and the Sheikhs of Sufism.
- That heaven or paradise, like hell, is not primarily a destination after death, but a way of life, lived now and forever.
- That truth is absolute but not confined by our understanding of it.
- That spiritual practices like prayer and contemplation are not about what they can do for me, or you - but what they can do for US.
- That salvation is not something that we can earn or even claim through faith - but it is rather given to us through the process of faith in action, as we conform to the light that has always been within us; now restored through Christ.
- That the body is not an illusion to be transcended - but rather a vessel to be transformed. A tool of realization and not its obstacle.
COMPLETION NOT CONVERSION
After being chrismated (confirmed) in the Eastern Orthodox Church I eventually joined the Catholic Church in 2008. Not as a conversion - but as an act of COMPLETION. It was, in my mind a personal restoration of the Great Schism that had (needlessly) divided the East and the West over a thousand years ago. It was a hard decision, which I still struggle with from time to time - but, I am home - the family may be a little dysfunctional - but I’m home. All the thoughts, opinions and philosophies that I had absorbed over the years were not rejected as false - but rather served as my suspended chord!
THE RESOLUTION CONTINUES
Completion, or resolution is the deeper message of the Gospel.
The story of God’s relationship with his creation is one great story of “suspense.”
The story in the Old Testament scriptures is of an exiled people striving to return to their home in paradise. It is both an historical and mythical reflection of that deep longing we all have for fulfillment.
There was eternal hope for a Messiah. Creation existed under the rule of “Thou Shalt Not....”
Then Jesus was born and everything changed. Now Creation is regenerating under the rule of “From Now and Forever We Shall....”
The condition for life is no longer “Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder.” But rather, “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.” The way of life is no longer “An Eye for An Eye.” But rather, “Love Your Enemies."
Jesus revealed that heaven starts right here in our flesh, it is found in our relationships with one another. When we see beyond the differences between us we can become One.
The shadows where we look for the truth can disperse when we “turn around” (which is the meaning of the word “Repent”) and realize that it is our own standing in the light that has caused the shadows all along.
In the Catholic Church the seeking has not ended - it has only begun. Now is the beginning of the journey to completion.