Thursday, March 26, 2009

BEN : Someone once told me . . .

Someone once told me about a monk who always said “yes.”
      It didn’t matter what he was asked to do, he always said yes. One day a monk-to-be asked him why he always said yes when he knew more often than not that he would either end up not liking what he was doing or discovering that he was not very good at it. The monk thought long and hard about how to respond. After some awkward silence, he simply explained that he didn’t know that he wasn’t any good at a particular task or that he didn’t really like it until he said yes.
      I would imagine your Dad would have identified with this story. A man who seeks to walk through life with open hands is a man who is ready to welcome all that may come along and wait to pass judgement on what has come until he has played with each opportunity as a child plays with Play Dough. The difficulty is opening our hands and living like a child again in a very adult world, ready to say yes.
      The image of walking through life with open hands reminds me how much I look forward leaving the place on the pew I occupy each week to come to the altar and kneel to receive the body and blood of Christ. There is something that happens within me each time I come, kneel, and open my hands waiting for the priest to come along and offer me what I have come to receive. This could arguably be one of the most significant postures of the entire eucharistic experience. It is a posture in which I rarely find myself outside of the eucharist — kneeling, with my hands open, waiting to receive.
      I am reminded too that there is no “special” place at the altar. I kneel next to others who are also in the same posture, anxiously anticipating the eating and drinking of the bread and wine no matter their race, sex, or socioeconomic status. We are all invited under the same premise and with the same stipulation: when we come, we must kneel and open our hands and wait to receive the Holy.
      There is no other season in which the distance between what I practice as I participate in Holy Communion and the posture of my life outside of holy places is highlighted more vividly than during Lent. Too often my intent is to say yes, but I end up opting out to protect what I have and what I am from being devalued or destroyed. Unfortunately, this leaves me clenching my fists around those things I treasure and squeezing the blessing out of them instead of embracing the paradox that what we really get to keep is what we give away.
      I need to say yes more. And I need to practice the posture of the Eucharist outside the walls of the cathedral I call home.

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