Thursday, February 3, 2011

Devotional reading 030211

Dear brothers and sisters,
新年快樂、Happy Chinese New Year! Hope you and your household will have a fruitful and blessed year to come 恩福滿堂. Our staff will have special hotpot lunch together in our own cafeteria. The weather outside is just gorgeous…no complaint and purely grace. It is indeed like spring time everywhere proclaiming the beauty of God 新春報喜.

Living things need an appropriate climate in order to grow and bear fruit. If they are to develop to completion, they require an environment that allows their potential to be realized. The seed will not grow unless there is soil that can feed it, light to draw it forth, warmth to nurture and moisture that unlocks its vitality. Time is also required for its growth to unfold.

Meditation is the attempt to provide the soul with a proper environment in which to grow and become…How, then, do we provide the right environment? What are the conditions for the soul which are equivalent to the sun and rain, the soil and warmth for the seed.? First of all, the soul requires a spiritual environment with which it can react and in which it can grow and mature. This is the reality of contact with a spiritual world. Then it must be prodded from within by human need, the moisture that makes the seed swell and burst its own limits and so start upon the growth process. Until we realize that we need something beyond our own humanness, neither prayer nor meditation become a reality.

And then there is the reality of love which seeks out and desires to touch us and bring us to itself. This unique Christian understanding of God is the light of the sun which draws us forth. Christians have been entrusted with the knowledge that God is like the loving, caring Jesus of Nazareth who cared enough to die for any individual, even if that person had been the only one. This understanding gives us the assurance that there is nothing to fear in the ultimate confrontation. Instead, it means allowing oneself to be open to this almost incredible love. But this still requires one more condition for the reality of continued meditation.

It is this final step of allowing our lives to be expressions of that love in outer action that provides the warmth needed to encourage the seed to grow. The expression can take innumerable forms. One person may express that love by attempting to change a rotten social structure that warps and deforms human souls, another by making love more real to those one already loves, letting more of one’s concern become apparent. It can be expressed by visiting a crotchety old neighbor with a cup of warm soup, or on a battlefield by lifting some water to the lips of a dying man. And these things are not only the highest good in themselves; they also keep our feet on the ground, guarding us from the danger of becoming so involved in spiritual things that we lose our humanness and our touch with outer reality.

For both the seed and the soul, these things all take time. In both cases there is need for patience. Most of us know enough not to poke at the seed to see if it is sprouting, or try to hurry it along with too much water or fertilizer of cultivation. The same respect must be shown for the soul as its growth starts to take place. Growth can seldom be forced in nature. Whether it is producing a tree or a human personality, nature unfolds its growth slowly, silently.

It is so difficult for human beings to understand that more than one condition may be needed to realize some possibility. We seem to have an insatiable desire to make things simple, to reduce every complexity to one cause. It is difficult for us to adjust to the world around us as it is. While there is no harm in trying to simplify things enough to understand them, too often we try to force reality to fit some rigid pattern of our own ideas. Where meditation is concerned, we need to realize two things. Meditation is simple and natural, like a seed growing and becoming a tree. At the same time it requires the right conditions not provided by the secular world today. If meditation is to touch reality, we must seek out the right climate. Amen.

In Christ,

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