Friday, June 18, 2010

Gollum and I Glimpse the Sun

On the rare occasion that my dad and my grandfather are out to dinner together, there's always this little spat over who will pay the bill. They each try to get the attention of the waiter first and secretly fork over for everyone's meals. On ministers' salaries, this is always a mystery to me. It certainly has to be a sacrifice, but they say nothing. As for me, I'm much more the kind of guy to snatch a muffin out of the box of leftover pastries if the food bank doesn't come pick them up for a while. I'll find some clever excuse for doing it - always quick to my own defense. They'll just go bad after all. But in the back of my mind, I'm always thinking that I was raised to pay for what I get. It's a blessing and a curse, surely, especially in the context of a relationship that's built on grace and that commends those who work hard not to be a burden to anyone.

I confess, I'm never good at receiving gifts. Today, my birthday, I've been made much of in the form of cards, gifts, well-wishes, and the like. It's well proven that I'm terrible at all of this. Some element of that inward and ingrown creature in me thrives on being left Alone. It lives in stunted and rancid darkness on the rejection of proffered Love. It is promising to feel the light shine on that ugly thing and reveal what it once might have been, what it could be again. It is a Gollum, and deep inside lives a Smeagol, vaguely recalling notions of friendship, of grace, of the absolutely unconditional gift. Part of it must die when it comes into the sun.

Out of sheer lack of practice, I suppose, I exhibit the perverted and graceless side of that good character which causes my dad and his dad to try to pay the bill first. The same drive which, in the hands of the Spirit, longs to give to others and to stand out of the limelight for the Glory of Christ will, away from the life-source of the Spirit, become a thing that cannot bear the wonderfully foolish love of being celebrated by others, and this for fear of the pain caused by Love. For to be loved is to be presented with the possibility to let go of one's own blame, and to release that blame and guilt is to step blindfolded into the floorless expanse only to find that it is also without a ceiling. To allow yourself to be loved is to disremember your own faults. Thank God, we have no authority to judge them anyway.


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