Monday, September 26, 2011

The Garden of My Heart That Is Jesus

In my back yard,
growing along the river.

Christ met me when I was 21. Now, 41 years later, Christ still meets me.

At age 21 I began to read the gospels. I still read them. I have found that I understand them less and I understand them more.

I understand less of Christ than I did 41 years ago. I'll quote, in sympathy, Thomas Merton here: "It does no good to use big words to talk about Christ. Since I seem to be incapable of talking about him in the language of a child, I have reached the point where I can scarcely talk about him at all. All my words fill me with shame." (The Sign of Jonas)

Merton expresses the heart of the Christian mystical tradition, which has deeply affected me. "Mystic" comes from the Greek muo, which means "to conceal." It has the sense of "can't talk about it, but I know it." This is non-discursive, experiential knowledge. In terms of knowing God, the more real experiential knowledge there is, the less there is talking about it. Christ has been solidly planted deep inside me, and as I grow older seeds of experience produce fruit every week. Often, now, I just am in silent awe and gratefulness, wanting more. This is important because experience, not theory, breeds conviction.

I understand more of Christ than I did 41 years ago. My knowledge of Christ is growing exponentially, week by week. I see, more clearly, that Christ far surpasses any human knowledge I might have. This growth comes because of the hyper-watering and fertilizing of the garden of my heart that is Jesus, with the water and the fertilizer being: extensive Scripture study and meditation, prayer, and fellowship (esp. my Home Group). The biblical verses that express this for me are Ephesians 3:16-19. They read:

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

A. I can't speak of Christ because he surpasses knowledge.

B. I can speak of Christ because I am beginning to know him and his love.

A and B go together, and work together dialectically, with the dialectical movement being between head knowledge and heart knowledge, study and encounter. The inner garden is still growing. Attend to it.