Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Either Asleep or Awake; Dead or Alive
Linda and I are home from our four days in La Jolla. Yesterday morning we ate at a restaurant called "The Cottage" for a second time. I had french toast stuffed with strawberry compote & marscarpone cheese. Linda had a breakfast special scrambled egg thing that was drizzled with something white and delicious and mixed with Mexican food things. She does not eat scrambled eggs, but said "If this is what they are like I'd eat them more often." This morning I read their menu and wept for three reasons: 1) I am not there, right now, eating breakfast; 2) I got on the scale this morning; and 3) in a few moments I'll be eating grape nuts with 1% milk.
I begin this morning, as usual, with Thomas Merton, who writes: "Most of the world is either asleep or dead. The religious people are, for the most part, asleep. The irreligious are dead." (No Man Is An Island) Both groups are like the two groups of virgins in the parable about waiting for the Bridegroom to come. Group #1 have oil in their lamps but fall asleep waiting for him to appear. Group #2 have lamps empty of oil "because they have burned themselves out in the wisdom of their own flesh and in their own vanity."
I think many of today's "religious" are more like Group 2 than Group 1. Or, perhaps, the negative aspects of both groups are combined (both asleep and dead). Many of today's "religious Christians" have lost sight of being led by the Spirit and trust instead in their own resources. Those resources are meager. To then expend one's meager resources (intellect, money, time) on things that are not of Jesus' Kingdom is "vain."
Merton, who spent much of his time praying and listening and seeking God, was able to see things that most cannot see. Which is why I have read and re-read him for years. Merton saw, at times, sub specie aeternitatis; i.e., from the perspective of eternity. There are other prophetic voices that see that way, too. They unite in their concern for the state of "Christianity" in today's America. I call it "folk Christianity." It is unimpressive and uninteresting to a whole lot of people, especially young people.
From Jesus' POV all of life should be lived in expectation of the return of the Bridegroom. To live in expectation is an active thing that leads to preparation. The expectation of the Bridegroom's arrival shapes one's "doings" today.
Therefore, followers of the Real Jesus: awake and live for Him.