All of us are glorious and wrecked.
Glorious because we simply are. We breathe in and we breathe out. We get up and go to work. We care for our children. We practice kindness. Not all the time, mind you, but we do sometimes, to other human beings, and that is a glorious thing. In Hebrew, the word for glory is kabod, which essentially means weighty and worth something.
And we are wrecked. The tide of our lives has at times swept us away from ourselves, and we have been utterly lost at sea, because of our own HPtFtU (thank you again Francis Spuford, that beautiful phrase hasn’t left me), or because of violence done against us. We are broken and it is difficult to put ourselves back together.
We are glorious in part because though we are wrecked, we have survived, and here we are, sipping coffee on a Thursday morning. We have somehow made it through all the tragedies of our lives, and at some point today, we may even let out a guffaw of laughter so loud it rattles the teeth of the person sitting across from us. It is a bit unbelievable, if you think about it.
What is that that allows us to overcome such devastating losses?
What is it that invites us to continue to be a human being who can love, and breathe, and connect?
What is it that continues to grow in us?
One of the great pleasures of my life is to listen to Krista Tippet interview people on her radio program, On Being. Whether it be Desmond Tutu, Brene Brown, Christian Wiman, The Indigo Girls, or Nadia Bolz Weber, she has a way of drawing out the beauty and the mystery of spirituality from the lives of these people that makes me feel more connected to God and to human beings at the same time (which is no small thing).
Recently I heard an encore of Krista’s interview with Irish poet John O’Donohue, just before he died in 2008, titled “The Inner Landscape of Beauty.” They began talking about the nature of time, and he said that just like there are time zones in a country, we have zones in ourselves as well. He said there is surface time, which is rapid fire and choppy, and leads to stress if that’s the only zone you allow yourself to live. But there is a deeper, more essential zone that he discussed, which has to do with how it is that we are glorious and wrecked, and how we survive through it all.
“And I love what my old friend Meister Eckhart, 14th-century German mystic wrote. One day I read in him and he said, “There is a place in the soul — there is a place in the soul that neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch.” And I really thought that was amazing, and if you cash it out, what it means is, that in — that your identity is not equivalent to your biography. And that there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s still a sureness in you, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you. And I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.”
I believe it is in this place where God connects with us, where God woos us, and where God invites us to emerge from as we walk into every moment of every day.
There is a place within you that cannot be touched by the wounding, by the shadow, or by the shame that lurks in the alleys of the other zones of yourself. And it’s not inaccessible. You do not have to travel far and wide to find yourself there. It is a breath away. And once you arrive, you find that it can only be occupied by yourself, and by the God who likes you, is for you, and calls you beloved.
God waits there for you, the Rascal.
Your identity is not equivalent to your biography.
Stunning, isn’t it?