We Have To Be Right About What Matters Most

We have to know what matters most and be right about it–and serve it with our life, in each situation as it arises, all our life long. That is, as they say, “all there is to it.” It is like this:

Whatever you love, cherish, adore, revere, honor, prize, esteem, treasure, value, acclaim…you know, like that,
about your life–
about the experience of being alive–
deserves your loyalty, fidelity, allegiance, devotion, dedication, worship.
And it is the only thing that does–
the only things that do.
But, there is a catch.
It has to be the right kind of thing.
It has to truly warrant, justify, vindicate, call for
the place of highest veneration in your life.
You can’t get by with worshiping
money, power, drugs, sex, alcohol, entertainment, escape, distraction, diversion, denial…
The thing/things you love with all your heart
has/have to serve life,
offer life,
be life,
and not some substitute for life,
not some proxy life,
not some surrogate life,
not some pseudo life
not something to compensate you
for failing to love anything
with the abandon
and courage
and vulnerability
required to love what you love
that deserves to be loved.
It has (they have) to be the Real Thing.
Whatever you love has to connect you to life,
attach you to life,
bring you to life,
so that you positively vibrate with the joy of living,
with the wonder and delight of being alive.
And, here’s the other catch,
it has to
enliven, vitalize, awaken, enthuse, reorient
the world,
or at least the representatives of the world
whose lives contact/connect with your life
and reverberate with the “music of the spheres,”
which is the love of life,
pouring over,
spilling out,
from you to them
and transforming their life forever.
What I’m saying here
is that you have to re-think religion,
and make its center and focus
what you love,
and not what someone tells you to love
because if you don’t
you are going to hell.
The truth is
if you don’t love what is right for you to love,
you are already in hell,
and if you do love what is right for you to love,
you are already in heaven–
and no one has to tell you that.
It is as self-evident as anything ever has been
or will be.

Being right about what we love being the right thing to love–being truly worthy of our love–is the best trick in the entire book of tricks. Who can be so sure? Who can do it? It is asked of us all, and none of us can escape having to answer, or having failed to answer.

Codex Bezae contains a verse from the Gospel of Luke that is not found in any other source material for the Bible, and, for that reason, was not considered to be canonical when it came time for the Church to declare that “These, and these alone, are the Books of Holy Scripture, and none other need apply!” It is interesting to me that this verse constitutes a warning against the very thing the people who “closed the Canon” were doing, and they acted without any evidence of concern about their actions.

The buildup to the “non-canonical” verse are the first five verses of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke:

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Then comes this verse found only in Codex Bezae:

“The same day, seeing someone working on the sabbath, (Jesus) said to him, ‘Man, if indeed you know what you are doing, then you are blessed. But, if you do not know, then you are accursed and a transgressor of the Law.’”

The difference between knowing what you are doing and thinking you know what you are doing is what? Who can be certain? Only experience can clarify the matter, and even then, some things have to be designated “To be determined.” Having to know what cannot be known is is called “The paradox at the heart of life.” And, it can be borne only by those who bear it consciously, knowing that it requires them to live transparent to–and in good faith with–themselves. Not kidding themselves about what they can know and not know, and living in search of a resonance they feel in their body with that which “calls their name” with a compelling urgency that must be obeyed, regardless of the implications for them personally. That is as close as we can come to knowing (in our body) what we love and what we must do in its service.

Carl Jung speaks to this “curse of the Call,” when he said: “Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument.” And, “The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose within him.” And, “The artist can only obey the apparently alien impulse within and follow where it leads, sensing that his work is greater than himself.” And, “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.” And, “As a pioneer, you must be able to put some trust in your intuition and follow your feeling even at the risk of going wrong.”

On those occasions when it becomes clear that we have “gone wrong,” we can only “Return to the center and look into our heart. Put our trust in our intuition and follow our feeling at the risk of going wrong” again. We cannot hope to be right without trusting ourselves to be right eventually, and, in the meantime, allowing ourselves to be wrong again and again in the service of our truest and best sense of what we need to do–of what needs us to do it–in each situation as it arises. “Tomorrow’s right is rooted in yesterday’s wrong and in today’s reflection and realization.”

“Reflection on experience leads to new realizations.” Joseph Campbell said this in talking about the importance of silence spent in examination, inspection and introspection. We have to work these meditative times into our life in regular and recurring ways, and permit the realization that leads to self-correction through repentance, redemption and atonement.

We have to be right about the importance of what we say is important–and keep working, striving, to be right in every context and circumstance of our life. The importance of knowing what is important demands the unrelenting practice of evaluating our evaluations, inspecting our judgments, investigating our conclusions, probing our convictions, examining our assumptions and recognizing that our opinions and theories are no more than opinions and theories. We are forever seeking what matters most–while serving as much as we know of it, and striving to expand our knowledge of it throughout our days on the earth.

To return once more to Carl Jung: “Aging is not a process of inexorable decline, but a time for the progressive refinement of what is essential.” This the path we all are to walk with mindful, compassionate, awareness of the process. We are living to get to the bottom of things–to know what is important, not because somebody told us so, but because we have lived our way there, and worked our way through a host of claimants to the title that turned out to be not so important at all, and know whereof we speak. And seek to know more, and live in ways which express it, each day of our life.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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