The Shocks of the System
The Daily Grind Coffee traveler lids rival my preschooler for Elusive Rascal of the Week.
What, then - shall I depart my home undercaffeinated, endangering innocent civilians as I fumble through the haze of the single-digit AM hours? Surely not.
One hand opens the minivan.
The other holds a cup brimming with danger.
My husband scowls at this game of chicken with the car upholstery: How could such recklessness not end in the spilling of both beverage and tears?
The secret to my success: Ever do I hold my mug in my hand, never trusting it to some bumptious cup holder.
Without conscious attempt, I keep the coffee mug in balance. You could say that I use my body as the coffee’s shocks.
It is a true miracle, but not one of my conjuring.
The human vestibular system is constantly balancing and rebalancing the body. In its sophistication and elegance, it excels the most advanced system mechanics could devise. Rightly does the psalmist say we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
The Body of Christ
As He has done with His individual imago, so has God done with the Body of Christ - He has endowed it with its own mysterious vestibular system.
How does the system work? It begins with letting ourselves be held.
Even as zygotes and infants, we begin our existence as the beloved. Before we have agency to do anything, others lend us their balance.
The first vocation of a person - the calling even more fundamental than to love God - is to be beloved of God; to be held in existence and in balance by Love.
To let the Love of God hold you is more fundamental a human task than to
respond to that Love.
When we forget this, we give up our divine birthright. We lose our shocks and try to face the tumult on own. Our strength in not enough without grace, so we stumble and fall into despair. We learn to hate ourselves for our insufficiencies. We are spilt upon the ground and the earth swallows us.
When we do not let God hold us, we cannot hold others. Our ability to accompany others in their travails is destroyed, even if we think it isn’t. Our advice becomes damaging, our friendship toxic, our empathy empty.
And when we forget that to be human is to be beloved of God, we also make horrible mistakes. We start to think that severely disabled children are better off killed in utero, since they will never “produce” or “contribute.” We start to think of assisted suicide as more merciful than “prolonging fruitless suffering.” We ignore our forgetful elders.
In short, we lose our chance to participate in the give and take of the vestibular system of the Body of Christ. Or, as Mother Teresa said much more eloquently,
If we have no peace,
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to one another.
The Shock of the Holy Spirit
We often associate the Spirit with outward action with obvious fruits, but let us remember that the Spirit is Gift and Advocate, not Taskmaster and Assessor. The Spirit enables us to act only if we are letting Him act in us, only if we are letting ourselves be held.
And let us remember that being held is not the same thing as having no challenges.
The Holy Spirit does not make straight and easy the road we must take, but rather holds us as we travel along bumpy roads. The Holy Spirit does not take away turbulence, but guides the plane to a safe landing. The Holy Spirit does not guarantee smooth sailing, but rather ensures that the Barque of Peter will not capsize.
Come, Holy Spirit,
and steady us. Hold us
so that we
may hold one another.