"... unless you bless me."
Genesis 32:26 (New Living Translation)
Reflecting these last couple of days on God's presence and absence in the world, and my own presence in and absence from the world as a weak image of God. God promises Jacob not leave his side until God has done all that has been promised to the ancestor of Israel, until God has finished giving entirely to Jacob. Jacob says he will not let go of God until he receives a blessing.
What shall we say? Has God ceased to bless us, and have we let go of God in a fearful, deathly way? It does not seem to me that God has finished blessing us. And it does not seem that we are ready to let go of God, either in our sinful selfish concupiscence or in our desperate unbelief. But for all our infidelity and morbidity, we are not done for. God knows our faith is not mature; God knows we are not ready to let go, confident in the invisible blessings we have received. So God "gives in," as God did to Jacob. And so it seems to me that God is still blessing us and revealing to us what has been revealed until we have the sight of faith to see. And we will not let go until we acknowledge, accept, and embrace what God has given totally to us ... and then do as God does and give until we have finished giving everything. God is patient; God will wait for us to see. And God delights when we struggle.
Continuing Johnson and her Miryam series.
A day at Refugio State Beach, ending the novitiate year much as we started it. As I did last summer, I took a long walk along the railroad hugging the bluffs. Only one commuter train passed by on my two-and-a-half hour walk. Marveling at the power and swiftness of the train, I thought to myself, "The train is Christ. The train is still coming." And then I felt Christ everywhere. The tide was Christ. The wind was Christ. The hot sun was Christ. The rocky, sandy earth was Christ.
I paused a couple of times to open my Bible to today's reading from Genesis ... Jacob wrestles with God. He becomes Israel, the one who struggles with God and prevails. And I let myself enter the mystery. There is something about this story that makes it universally relatable, I think. What struck me today was how God came down for a night to wrestle with Jacob only after he left his family and possessions on the other side of the Jabbok River. Well, isn't that what my novice brothers and I have done and been doing all year here, and not merely for a night? Or have I been wrestling with them only?
As the afternoon drew long, I began to feel sad, melancholy, and impatient again, as often I become when I get to daydreaming. I should call it (to)daydreaming because I want tomorrow to be today. I want to think, speak, and act in a way that wastes none of God's time and brings about a more perfect perception of the kin(g)dom come here and now. I don't like being separated from Boston. I don't like being separated from friends. I don't like being so often distant from the poor. I have struggled with the seclusion of novitiate, the social inactivity, the public passivity. I have struggled with being in fraternity in a "hidden" poverty, without a truly manifest poverty or minority. I don't like being celebrated all the time by benefactors when up to now I have done nothing as a follower of Jesus in the Franciscan-Capuchin way. It is time to see Boston, my friends, and the poor. It is time for responsibilities with real consequences. It is time for the kind of freedom to make holy choices that will be seen by a watching world. It is time to be a brother to the world. It is time to be sent forth. It is time to wrestle, but differently!
Lest I seem ungrateful for this proving in the desert, I have to wonder if this zeal would be surging so, were it not for novitiate.
With our trip to the coast, we beat the heat again. Not going to happen tomorrow.