Measure for Measure


Yesterday I was struggling some.  I had this overwhelming feeling that everything I was doing was somehow not enough... or pointless.  The reality of the situation we are in landed on me, I suppose.  

I found myself mourning all the things that were being lost because of the global pandemic, and I felt myself growing angry, frustrated and a bit hopeless.  The realization that everything was going to be different after this... that there is so much uncertainty... it was too much.  

All of that kind of happened between 10 and 11:30AM, which seems to be the case lately.  Lately, my emotions keep me feeling like I am on a roller coaster that won't stop running, and I'm hitting the highest of highs and the lowest of lows all within the space of an hour or so.  

I read this poem the other day by Christina Rosetti---a poem about resurrection, that was unlike any poem about resurrection I've ever read.  Let me share the first stanza: 

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me. 

When I read that, it resonated with me on so many levels.  All the lines up to the last were true for me in that moment.  I felt like I was spiraling, free falling with no net below me.  

And at the end of the gut-wrenching confession, the poet does what I also felt like doing then... She cries out for help... but not just any help, not at all.  

She cries out for help from the One who saw the deepest part of the abyss, the One who stared down the emptiness that comes with the loss of God, the abandonment by his friends, the depths of the unknown, the blackness of death... 

And then rose to new life from all of it. 

I've come to understand that the Divine response to my deepest longings, my greatest needs is almost always in direct proportion to them --measure for measure.  

Even when I can't fully articulate what those needs are... even when I am feeling trapped on a rollercoaster that won't quit hitting fiendish loops and demonic dives right after reaching the top of a hill.  

I read this little snippet of writing from Fr. Thomas Keating this morning, and it spoke directly to me.  He wrote:  
The experience of our desperate need for God's healing is the measure in which we experience his infinite mercy.  The deeper the experience of God's mercy the more compassion we will have for others. 
So in the end, it's not merely my own experience of God's mercy and healing that is the story.  It's what happens to me after I realize that my desperate need has been met with infinite mercy... and then I begin to see others through that lens of gratitude and grace.  

In other words, I find myself not only wondering if there are others out there who feel the way that I do, but also thinking about the ways in which I might be a blessing to them.  

If you experience great grace, and then keep it to yourself, you don't fully realize the grace, you don't allow it to do a complete work in you because you are resisting the selfless aspect of it. 

We all want healing, restoration, renewal, resurrection.  But many of us worry that if we want the same things for others, and actively try to offer it, show it, share it... that there may not be "enough" for us.  

God's grace isn't like pie.  There's more than enough to go around for everyone, everywhere.  And when we need it desperately, God's grace falls upon us like rain in the desert.  

When we cry out, we are heard... and loved... and lifted up...  

And then we must do the same to all those who are crying out around us.  Because we may be the very hands and feet of Christ to them, the answer to their prayers, the means of God's grace conveyed to them.  Just as they might be the answer to ours, the means of grace for us.  

May this be true for you today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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