They were perfectly designed for my own interior spiritual meditations over the past few days after heading into a riptide of people caught up in a mean-spirited maelstrom.
I've always had a soft-spot in my heart for people caught up in the mean-spirited. I can see beyond their behavior that is an expression of their pain. Their conduct generally rolls off my back. I can weather the storms.
The unconditional love unspoken intrigues the broken and this has always led to a number of situations in my life that can be spiritually challenging.
People looking for healing can find the path to unconditional love and ultimately beyond me and back to God.
People who aren't interested in healing and unconditional love see a place where they can direct their rage. They set traps they know I will walk into and when the timing is right, they take a bat to my head. They're living off the satisfaction that comes from hurting people, including themselves. Especially themselves. This kind of a situation takes great wisdom and strength to navigate. It's a challenge to give testimony to the situation that is destroying them and hurting you and to know when to remove yourself from the situation.
It's my tendency to hang in there until the person realizes that unconditional love doesn't come with carte blanche to continue the behavior. Open communication about the limitations of what is acceptable to nurture a healthy situation is critical to success. This does not always go well. Of course, people around here know I have my own imperfections and flaws that challenge the situation (ahem), but this is the walk, a conscience and mature effort to continue the journey of grace perfecting nature. Those stuck in destructive patterns have the choice to accept the love and discipline their destructive behavior or get out of Dodge and find another situation where there is weakness and dysfunction and room for unchallenged destruction.
The irony of these human situations is that we are supposed to see that this is how Christ balances the invitation to accept His unconditional love while perfecting our human nature, sins and flaws.
He has charted the course that doesn't let us hurt ourselves and those around us. We accept the invitation or we run from it thinking we know better. When we run, He never lowers the bar and we are somehow conscience that His unconditional love is always the candle burning in the window.
This week, I walked into a storm after several years of being away from it. I was caught of guard by the mean-spiritedness that still has a stronghold on the situation. I got a bat to my head. In the brief encounter, I found the party hurting others and expressing the bitterness and revenge was over something that happened ten years ago.
Ten years holding onto a grudge and bitterness. Can you imagine?
The moral of the prodigal son parable gets jumbled more often than the wisdom gets imparted to the listener.
It's the story of a son who leaves his father's house rather than accept the code of conduct. The rules are oppressing him he thinks, and he heads out the door believing he's setting himself free.
But the joke is on him. Instead of freedom, his sins and recalcitrant behavior wind up dragging him into the slavery. Eventually he sees the misery of sin, and sinful and sorrowful, he returns to his father's house and begs forgiveness. The father rejoices in this powerful conversion.
We see the truth and the truth sets us free.
It is the refuge from the storm.
It is the refuge from the storm.
Here is the beautiful prayer at the end of the reflection in the Magnificat on the Prodigal son:
Merciful Father, you who are so lavish with your inheritance, do not cease to look for me if my heart rebels against you. My sharing in the cross is the way that you separate me from whatever separates me from You. When I resist your will, send me a famine to make me mindful of your mercy so that I will come back to my senses. Turn my self-serving into self-giving. Let me arise and fly back to You - You who run to welcome me with the Eucharistic Feast of Your Crucified Son.