Transformation through immersion and consciousness depends on our capacity to be penetrated by the Mystery of Christ. Our being, our substance, must be porous in order for the Mystery to enter, to penetrate. That is the crux of the matter. It is not enough simply to be immersed in… life. We must let ourselves be plowed so that the furrows of our person become deeper and deeper, so that our earth becomes softer and softer. This is something our being craves, but this plowing is kenosis [emptying, the death which must precede new life, rebirth] and kenosis is not easy. In the measure that our being becomes porous, open, grace can penetrate us. Depth is possible. Transformation is possible. Thus an ever deepening penetration by the Mystery can fill us with spiritual being.
Jean-Marie Howe, “Cistercian Monastic Life/Vows: A Vision”, 367 (7)
As I read this excerpt the other night before going to sleep, I felt happy to come across the word kenosis once again. Those who pass through this blog may remember that I discovered this word during our six-week course in Manresa, Spain, last year. From then on, I have heard like a call to move toward that state of emptying.
I am not sure whether one ever develops “the capacity to be penetrated by the Mystery of Christ.” Or maybe I do by learning not to fight this penetration, a penetration which until not long ago came against my will.
Isn’t it odd that I am afraid of what will be good for me in the end?
I have been thinking a bit about this “plowing effect”. I can see now that all those times of suffering in my life, when I felt no control whatsoever on what was happening to me and wondered when, if ever, my heart would finally break from so many assaults against and ramming into it, those were not times when I was plowed so that my earth would become softer and gentler, kinder and more patient, letting go of that control which takes me nowhere.
Life is pure gift, write Javier Melloni in El Cristo Interior. We’ve never owned it, we are just stewards, so it should be easy to give it back. The Origin which gifted it to us is infinite, endless, constant… It labors within me, against my own will so often, toward this vision of complete embrace and surrender.
It is one thing to understand this with my mind, to long for it with my heart, while feeling an animal fear of it in every muscle of my being. I cannot make it happen. I can only open myself to it, every day, a little bit at a time, if at all, learning to welcome the fear, the unknown, the anticipated pain, all the while feeling the amused and loving gaze of the One who has all the time in the world.
Photo: On the way to Santiago some years back.