Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. How wonderful it is to have a break of sunshine after the storm! It is so refreshing and cool. The budding tree looks so lively and beautiful like a new born baby. The nature indeed proclaims the glory of the Lord in all the earth. Praise God for this precious gift of life to enjoy His creation on earth. God does not want us to “hate” this materialistic world as though it is totally evil. In silence, we learn to appreciate this world from God’s perspective.
In Western religion detachment is equally important, but not as an end in itself (like Eastern religion). Instead the aim is freedom which will allow the individual to find new and richer attachments to God and to other human beings. Christian devotional practice stresses this goal of freedom from relationships of actual dependency. It is mainly in this way that we can come to the inner wholeness that allows us to give ourselves freely to God and to our fellow men.
So much of the time our lives are scattered in unconscious reactions to the demands of one attachment or another. Often we are not even aware of their strength, and only in silence can we begin to seek detachment from them. As one begins to withdraw and feels the surge of emotion of losing something, self- knowledge begins. By discovering this lack of freedom, one becomes able to loosen the ties that need to come unbound. Then one can gradually discover the bits and pieces, fragments of responses and reactions and emotions, can be gathered together into a whole personality.
Neither freedom nor inner-directedness is a final goal. Instead, each is valuable tool in moving toward wholeness. They are steps on the way to learning the meaning of God’s love for us. As one finds the reality of that love, it becomes possible to offer oneself to God in a mature way and to give some of the same love and understanding to others, self-giving love without strings attached. This way of wholeness and love is central to the life and teaching of Jesus, and to most Christians who have caught the inner meaning of His life and words. Whatever else it involves, one finds in this process of detachment and reattachment the meaning of being born again, of giving up an old life and being given a new one.
This is not an easy way to follow, however. Detachment is a tricky process. And the word itself can be twisted into all sorts of meanings. By a simple shift of emphasis, detachment can be twisted to mean denial and a practice of devaluing and rejecting anything that is stamped “worldly.” Anything not purely from God, or leading directly to God, may be seen as evil and harmful to the religious way. This is the kind of attitude that rejects and hates all that is natural and human in this world, and it can lead to the most extreme and dangerous asceticism.
There is danger in mixing detachment with asceticism in this way because it may be prompted by masochistic self-hatred rather than by a search for relationship with God. It is one thing to start with a judgment on the body, or the psyche or the world, with two strikes against them, and quite another to try to stand off from these things so that they can be put into a proper perspective of value. They can then become allies in training for the true freedom of a life of service to God.
This takes effort. Detachment in this sense demands as much discipline as either Western asceticism or Eastern separation for its own sake. There is no shortcut that leads to instant wholeness or mature attachment. Meaningful relationship is born out of detachment, which is usually first quickened by reflection in silence. The importance of detachment for the religious way, and its dependence on silence, can hardly be overemphasized. One reason for the power of social action of Martin Luther King was the way it sprang out of his wholeness which was the wholeness of a person recollected in silence and the presence of God. Almost all Christian reform of any significance which in the end healed rather than destroyed, has sprung out of the same source.
Silence can be a mini-experience of death and resurrection It is a temporary cessation of one’s doing and planning and desires. When we actually die we give up the possessions that have mattered to us and entrust them to the care of others. Much the same thing happen when one stops in silence. Action, planning, desiring are all suspended, entrusted to the Other in silence, while the thoughts and emotions and realities that surround them are given a chance to regroup.
It is much easier for introverts to turn inward than for extraverts. The introvert feels at home in the silence for such a person’s interest is already there. For the extravert this means an about-face or turning away from all that seems valuable and familiar. The difficulty for the introvert is in stepping out of the self, in reaching out, say, to a stranger in church or at the swimming pool. Turning towards the inner world is just as difficult for the extravert, and also just as necessary and valuable. Both are as vital to the Christian life as the two halves of a beating heart. But today’s world applauds our efforts to reach out and tries to forget that those efforts require an inner basis which is found in silence. It is silence, and the fact that something happens in the silence, which needs to be stressed today.
Kelsey’s discernment here is absolutely correct. We rediscover our true meaning of existence through detachment in silence. Not the silence itself can produce any effect but our encounter with the Holy Other in silence that makes a difference. The attitude is therefore important in silence. We don’t detach for detachment’s sake. We detach so that we can focus on God, and allow Him to surface our wound that needs to be healed and transformed. It is not by our might and our wisdom that can produce lasting change in life; it is purely the work of God in us. The author of Proverbs said, “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is the commanding center of our reason, emotion and will. Our heart is our passion which is like an engine of a train or a car. If the driver is evil, the potential of this train will be destructive. If the driver is good and faithful, the vehicle will become blessings to many. That’s why our Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). The word “meek” is a tamed horse. A tamed horse is a potential under control by its owner. A meek person is someone who surrender the control of his or her potential for God’s use. In silence, we allow God to surface our inner drives that always want to be in control. Once we recognize our inner desire to drive or control, we surrender it to Christ willfully for His usage. By doing so we become blessing to God and to those around us. A new life in Christ involves detachment for prayer and meditation each day for His glory. Have a blessed weekend to refresh your soul.
Love you in Christ