Bound For Glory: Transfiguration Spirituality

00:00
00:00
Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.

Serial: 
NC-00072

Keywords:

Suggested Keywords:

Description: 

Part of "Bound For Glory: Transfiguration Spirituality"

Archival Photo

Photos: 
Notes: 

#set-bound-for-glory-transfiguration-spirituality

#preached-retreat

Transcript: 

Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John off by themselves with him, and he led them up a high mountain. He was transfigured before their eyes, and his clothes became dazzling white, whiter than the work of any bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and the two were in conversation with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus, Rabbi, how good it is for us to be here. Let us erect three booths on this site, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. He hardly knew what to say, for they were all overcome with awe. A cloud came overshadowing them, and out of the cloud a voice, This is my Son, my Beloved.

[01:02]

Listen to him. Suddenly looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them, only Jesus. And as they were coming down the mountain, he strictly enjoined them not to tell anyone what they had seen before the Son of Man had risen from the dead. And they kept this word of his to themselves, though they continued to discuss what to rise from the dead meant. If your eyes aren't open, you can open them now.

[02:05]

I hope just this simple way of beginning each morning will teach you the power of listening when you've calmed yourself down, and we try to clear our minds someone, and then when someone reads slowly and carefully, you feel the weightiness of the words, and you could perhaps hear my breath as I said the words, maybe in between the words, and maybe you could hear the silence in the background. Words are always spoken against silence. An example of how important it is to set the right conditions for truly listening to God's word, for truly listening to God's truth about who we all are as a river of love flowing out of itself and raising to new life. As we begin this morning, continuing on with our reflection on the Transfiguration story and this glory, what I'd like you to do now, just for a moment, and I'll call time, so

[03:20]

you have to try to do this as long as I say, hopefully it won't be too difficult, I want you to find someone near you, and it has to be kind of one-to-one, this sort of thing, and I want you to not sit three or five feet away, but try to sit maybe a few feet away from that, and I want you in silence, no speaking, to just look at the glory in their face and in their eyes without speaking, and don't divert your attention or your eyes until I say time. Just look at the glory in their face and in their eyes. Find someone if you can. You have to turn toward them. I know it's not an easy thing to do, but you're going to spend eternity doing this, so get

[04:27]

used to it. Looking at the glory. See the glory of God in an ordinary human face and eyes that we see every day, many faces and many eyes. Do we see, take time to see the glory. As the story of the Transfiguration tells us, suddenly there was no one with them, only Jesus. All they could see was Jesus and his glory. Okay, now give that person a kiss of peace, the exchange of peace.

[05:30]

Well, thanks for coming, wasn't that one? That was worth it, right? I've added another painting of Father Arthur's. Not that we're getting rid of the River of Life, are we? God forbid, we need the River of Life image for the rest of our lives, this side of death to keep reminding us that what we think is fixed in life isn't. Life keeps moving, but I keep moving. The sense of I identity is not a fixed thing. It's a fixed thing. It's a river of love who I really am, deep within me. Well, now I've added a rather odd, I don't know if odd's the right word, but a different kind of painting, a different kind of image. And you see in this life and darkness, don't you? And you see a mountain and a valley, so a rising and a falling. And you see a tree in the middle of it.

[06:35]

And you see light and darkness, and you see red and black. I'm going to talk a little bit more about those in the course of my talk this morning. But this is still about this. It's just a different image we use to try to understand this river of love that we are, that's our true identity. I want to begin with telling you a true story, a true experience that happened to me that was a very, very powerful experience in my life. Let's see, this was about 10 years ago. I was not a Commodities Benedictine monk at the time. I was a member of another religious order, a missionary order. And I was the novice master for that order. What that meant is I did all the basic training for the new recruits that came in. I was like the drill sergeant. And I ran a novitiate year, so it was a 12-month program. And I did it for the three provinces of that order in the United States. The East province, the West Coast province, and they had a Hawaiian province. They would send their candidates to near Hemet, Southern California,

[07:40]

some of you may know, south of Riverside. And it was a semi-desert area out in the hills. And we had 80 acres and several buildings. And we had a path that went around most of the 80 acres. And I used to sometimes jog or brisk walk around that path early in the morning for my exercise. And there were hills, various points, somewhat like here. And there was one high hill that was pretty high, though not a mountain exactly, on the property. And on top of that hill, the path would go up the hill, was a cross. It was a large cross made of railroad ties, you know, those big pieces of wood, dark, old, and with a cross beam and stuck in the ground. And this is what I did almost every morning, walking around. So I walked up, and this was before dawn, so it was early. I walked up the hill to where the cross was, and I was standing in front of the cross. And I was looking towards Mount Idlewild, the other side

[08:43]

of which is Palm Springs, okay, to give you some idea where we were. So I was looking at Mount Idlewild, which is huge, and I could see light starting to show along the ridges of the mountain, which meant the sun was already up in Palm Springs, but was slowly rising up. And I said, gee, maybe I should wait. It looks like it'll only be a few minutes, and I'll see the sunrise. It should be a glorious sunrise. So I'm standing there waiting, and everything is sort of gray, you know, before the sun comes up, and it's a bit cold, and no one's up. And then I noticed to my right, where we lived was following an old road that went through a little valley, and the valley would narrow to this gorge. And I looked to my right, and I noticed this fog, this blanket of fog, starting to come in from the ocean side, which was 40 miles away, but still creeping in. And it was a low-lying fog. It was almost as if this was Hollywood, you know, or Cecil B. DeMille's and the Ten Commandments. You remember when the tenth plague is this green fog that comes? I thought of that, you know. And it was a very well-defined fog. It was

[09:46]

almost like a fog machine was making it. It was very low, and had very definite boundaries to it. And it was creeping along, creeping along, and I said, wow, I've never quite seen a fog like this. Usually you just sort of have this cloud that comes in. Well, this looked like this blanket of fog. And I'm looking at the mountain, waiting for the sun to rise, and this fog is coming. I said, gee, I hope the fog doesn't come up all the way here, and then I won't see the sunrise. So I'm looking at the fog, and suddenly it's down below on our property. And it's enveloping the buildings. We have two double mobile homes and a main house. And I couldn't see them anymore. And suddenly, sure enough, the fog is slowly working its way up towards the valley, the mountains. And it's starting to come up the mountain, very slowly. And I'm standing there, and it's getting brighter and brighter on the mountain top. I'm saying, oh my gosh, hurry up, sun, hurry up, sun, because when the fog comes, I won't see anything. The fog comes, and then it slowly reaches the top. And it was a very, very eerie kind of experience. This low-lying fog was only about this high

[10:46]

when it got to me, got to my knees, and suddenly I couldn't see my knees, and it started working its way up my body. And I'm looking at for the sun. It starts working away, and it just hits me, my head, and envelops me, and the first shafts of light break through above the mountain. Now you can imagine what happened with those first rays of light catching that very concentrated fog. You know, it was one of those fogs where you can almost see the droplets. They all caught the rays of sun, and it radiated. And I was immediately in this fluorescent light, and seeing all these droplets which were magnifying the light, and I remember I took my breath away as it was swirling all around me, and I was in the light, and I thought of right away the Transfiguration story. To be totally caught up in the light, and before I realized it, I was leaning against the cross. In order to hold myself up, because I was so overwhelmed by this light, radiating light, I was kind of

[11:50]

propped up and leaning against the cross. And it was the most magnificent experience that I had ever had of light in my life. But what really struck me was a new understanding of the Transfiguration mystery. And that was the fact that I was leaning against the cross. That I had an experience of glory and cross at the same moment. And that's what I want to pursue today. The road to glory. What is the road to glory? That's why we have these two paintings. I think this experience revealed to me in a deeper way glory and the cross, and how they're interconnected. As strange as it may seem, it was the cross and that experience that was supporting me. We don't normally think of a cross supporting us. We think of it as a burden, don't we?

[12:53]

To get through as fast as possible, to get to the glory. That was not my experience. The cross was supporting me, enabling me to stand in the glory. Otherwise I probably would have fallen over. I was so overwhelmed by it. The cross on my back was not a burden. It was something to lean on. It was like a crutch supporting someone who's lame. Or scaffolding supporting a building that is just rising. Or perhaps like a trellis that you put for a plant to grow that cannot stand on its own, supporting it. The relationship between the cross and glory is essential for our lives. The glory, we've said, is a

[13:54]

love which on the cross pours itself out in utter self-giving. In the emptying out of love is the filling up of new birth. Do you remember that text in Philippians 2? I didn't bring my glasses. Here it is, Philippians 2. Though he was in the form of God he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, but rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of human beings. He was known to be of human estate and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on the cross. Because of this God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above every other name, so that at Jesus' name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim the glory of God the Father. Jesus Christ

[14:57]

is Lord. And that's a hymn that Paul is quoting. The very hymn talks about what? This emptying and this filling up, this lowering, this dying and this rising up in one hymn. In the emptying out of love is the filling up of new birth, of new life. The cross is therefore necessary for us what I'm suggesting. We need the cross to stand in the glory that we are, which is a river of love, pouring itself out and raising up to new life. Every act of true loving requires the cross or it's not true love, or it's not the river of love. It's not the glory of God. Every true act of loving is a dying, is a death. And every true act of

[15:57]

loving which is a death is a birth at the same time. You know, it's interesting in John's crucifixion scene. That's the one probably most often depicted in icons and paintings with what? John the beloved disciple on one side and Mary on the other. You remember that image? And it's very interesting because you have a mother there who gave birth to Jesus. But as Jesus is dying there, the whole thing is portrayed as a death scene and a birth scene. One and the same scene. Because Jesus is giving birth to something. That's what he's telling Mary and the disciple. Because of him, some new relationship between the two of them is now happening. Mother behold your son. Remember the text. Son behold your mother. It's a birth scene and the final scene ends with his side is pierced and blood and water come out. The early fathers of the church saw it as the womb of Jesus. The birth canal of Jesus. And he is mother. He is giving birth. A birth scene.

[17:01]

And John seems to put the whole thing, and again he's trying to put the mystery of what? Glory and the cross together. And he's saying the glory is not just what happens three days later. There is a cross in glory and there is a glory in the cross. Do you remember also after the resurrection when Jesus appears to the eleven and Thomas is not there. And then he comes back and Thomas is there. The doubting Thomas. And Jesus appears what? With his wounds. Didn't that ever strike you as odd? Why would he still have wounds if he's now glorified and made whole? Why would he have wounds? He needs those wounds. Glory needs wounds. Glory needs to pour itself out. Glory needs openings. Glory needs open doors.

[18:02]

The cross therefore is not just what happens three days later. It is not just something we pass through to get to glory. It is somehow an expression of the glory which is love poured out. Thus the cross is both a symbol of death and a symbol of life. A tree of life. That's what we see in this painting. There's kind of a dark macabre sense about it. This darkness. And the tree is down in this down place in this valley. And you have this light behind like my experience waiting for the sun to come up. And this darkness. This play of up and down. This play of light and darkness. The tree. And you can't really see any leaves so it looks like it's bare. Like it represents death. But through it is this slice of a moon. This slice of light coming through. Suggesting this unity between light and darkness. Between up and down. Between life and death. Between glory and the cross.

[19:08]

So the cross is both a symbol of death and of life. A tree of life. Elsewhere in John's gospel he tells us. He tells us about Jesus raised upon the cross. Comparing it to Moses who in the desert after the Israelites had been bitten by the fiery serpents and were dying. Remember what Moses is told to do. He's told to get a pole. A tree. And to put the serpent on that. And to raise it up and whoever will look on the serpent will be healed. Now doesn't that strike you as odd? The very thing that kills you will heal you? Of course we know the ancients even to this day the symbol for medicine is the serpent. And that's used by John in his gospel to talk about the mystery of Christ. Christ is raised on a pole and we see death. But that

[20:15]

death is our healing. Is a source of life. That emptying out is glory is what I'm saying. And recently you've really got it right. You've got the glorified Christ. You know we only know about the cross because of the glorified Christ. We only know the meaning of his death because it's the glorified Jesus and the spirit who teaches us. See the death happened 2,000 years ago. That's over. But the one who's now living is the risen Christ with his wounds. And we enter into his glory and he shows us the meaning of that glory which is this love that pours itself out. You cannot separate glory from the cross. It's like the cross is planted in the garden of Eden and we're all brought back in. All of humanity that was cast out because of the sin of Adam and Eve are now brought back in. And that cross

[21:16]

starts to bud and sprout. And that cross represents, remember in the story of Adam and Eve they were told not to eat from the tree of life, of eternal life in the middle of the garden. And now that cross becomes the tree of eternal life. Jesus conquers death. What kind of death? The death of love. The death of glory. He conquers that death with another death which is the death that is love. The giving over that is love. The river that pours itself out is a death. It's a kind of death. And that's how Jesus conquers this other kind of death which is the death of love. Which is what? The clinging and holding on. That's what that other death represents. That's the death of sin. Remember for the Hebrew people physical death is what? A consequence of what? Sin.

[22:17]

So it's a strange mystery. It's a strange paradox. It's through death that Jesus conquers death. But it's one kind of death he's conquering and it's another kind of death with which he conquers. Then the road to glory when we understand this becomes the road of glory. You and I are not just on a journey to get to glory but the very road we're on is the glory. It's the road of glory. Glory happens. Glory breaks through. We get a glimpse of true glory when there is death. Love death. This kind of dying. This kind of letting go. This kind of giving over of yourself and of your love to others. This kind of love requires a death each and every time it is expressed. It is the wood of the cross that enables the fire of God's

[23:23]

love to keep burning brightly in us. And this is why the transfiguration scene is preceded by Jesus' prediction. If you would read a little bit earlier than the text in Mark, Jesus predicts the Son of Man is going to suffer and is going to be handed over and is going to die. And then the story ends with it, doesn't it? As I read it today. They're coming down the mountain. So you have this kind of up and down again. And what Jesus tells them, don't tell anyone until the Son of Man rises from the dead. There's that bad news he tells them. And they're pondering what does it mean to rise from the dead? What does that mean? To put the word rise and dead together. What does that mean? They're pondering it. So the whole transfiguration story is encased in death, in suffering. And it's right in the center of it. A number of years back when I was helping to start our little monastery in New Hampshire, I was watching the news

[24:26]

one night on television. And this was the time when the horrors were happening in the former Yugoslavia. And the war was going on. And if you remember, Sarajevo was under shellfire and all those terrible things we'd see on the news every day. And the news interviewer interviewed a young couple. They had both been in college until all the conflict erupted. And they were lovers. They weren't married yet. One was a Muslim. And this was probably why the news writer thought it was an interesting story. One was a Muslim and one was a Christian. And as you know, they weren't getting along in all this conflict. And they had asked both of their families permission to try to escape from the city because there was no future for them. They wanted to get out, continue with their schooling, and marry. And so they got permission. And the camera showed them sneaking out at dusk. And there was an area of the city that was called, you know, we use the expression, no man's land. What it meant was kind of a dangerous zone. And where a lot of sniper fire took place.

[25:29]

And they're telling this nice story. And you're kind of moved by it. You know, this wonderful example of how two opposing people can actually be lovers. And you're kind of cheering for them. And they're sneaking out. And all of a sudden you're not prepared for it. She gets shot. And you see it right on. And this was, I think, it must have been live because they never told us this was going to happen. And so I remember I let out a yell and stood up. And I was so angry, you know. Angry at God. Angry at whoever. No, no, no. I'm screaming. It was kind of like Romeo and Juliet, you know. One of them gets killed. And she goes down. And then he gets hit. And he goes down. Just this tragedy. And I'm starting to weep, you know. I'm just so upset about it. And angry. And then I'm shocked to see her put up her hand in a clenched fist of triumph. And then open it and drop it and reach out over to him. That's the crucifixion scene.

[26:32]

That's glory, isn't it? That's triumph. These seemingly too unarmed, powerless people were more powerful than all the tanks. Than all the guns. Than all the warriors. Than all the politics. This is sort of what I'm trying to get at. The road to glory is the road of glory. The cross is planted right in glory. This giving up of ourselves. Being the river of love who we are requires a cross. Requires the support of a cross. Requires the opening of a cross. The road to glory is not a popular road. The road of glory is not a wide road, is it? It's a

[27:37]

narrow road. It's not mainstream life. It's not the path that people take. It's interesting that Mark throughout his gospel shows the disciples wanting glory. You know, seeing Jesus' exorcisms. We read that especially in Mark. You know, he likes to show the power of Jesus. Jesus' glory has a certain power. So Mark likes to show us that and how odd the people are and how odd his disciples are. And more and more they want to get some of that power. They want to get some of that glory. But they don't want the cross. They want glory without the cross. And we know that in that scene in Caesarea Philippi when Peter seems to have an insight. Well, this glory, yeah, you're the Messiah. You're the Son of God. And Jesus then says, well, blessed are you, Peter. You don't know that from your own ingenuity. That's a grace God has given you. And Peter must have been saying, yeah, thank you. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. And then Jesus says, well, the Son of Man is going to have to suffer and die. And Peter says,

[28:39]

no. You don't have to go to Jerusalem. Do you remember that? And Jesus says, get thee behind me, Satan. Peter, you don't understand my glory which is your glory. You don't understand it. My glory requires a kind of suffering. My glory requires a kind of cross. This road to Jerusalem, this road to glory is the road of glory. It's a steep road. It's not a flat road. The Transfiguration story begins how? Jesus leads the three disciples up a high mountain. It's a symbol, isn't it? The high mountain has something to do with the glory, the experience they will have of the glory. And it ends with them going down the mountain. There's a reason that's in the story.

[29:42]

They represent us being called to make that journey up the mountain and down the mountain. Now, we know for the ancient people, mountains were places where they thought you would meet God. Mountains were places where you could see maybe and get a better perspective of your life. But we also know it takes a lot of effort to climb a mountain, especially a high mountain. It takes preparation and equipment. It takes sweat and perseverance. And that's what the journey of our lives is all about. The road to glory, the road of glory is the cross. And the cross feels like climbing a mountain. That's just how it feels like to us. It's tough. It's difficult. It's hard work. We get out of breath. We want to stop. We want to rest. We want to eat. We want to go back down. And this whole idea of journey is another kind of theme.

[30:46]

And we know in the Bible that begins with two key people, two ancestors of faith, Abraham and Sarah. They begin to take that journey up a mountain. They make a difficult journey, don't they? They decide to leave everything safe, everything comfortable, everything familiar, all the support systems, and to journey into a land with no triple-A map. A land they don't know. They don't know what's going to happen to them. And why do they take this risk? Why do they make this journey? Which is the journey every one of us must make. Because they hear a whisper deep inside them that makes a promise. And the promise gives rise to hope. And they decide to make a journey. Now suppose that whisper was indigestion. They took a risk. Because not every voice we hear means we should do that kind of

[31:48]

thing. There was something about this voice. They took a chance. They took a risk. They heard this whisper. They thought it was making some kind of promise. And they didn't fully even understand the promise. They interpreted it, you know, according to their own lights and graces and prejudices. And, you know, when you're given a promise, what happens? You get hope, don't you? And then once the hope rises, you have to then trust, don't you? Biblical trust is faith. The Bible says faith. They really mean to trust. You know, there was a French essayist and philosopher from the 19th century, Charles Piguet, and he wrote about faith, hope, and love, or trust, hope, and love. And he said, you know, when we think of these, we normally think of three virtues. You know, when you either have faith or you don't, you either have hope or you don't, or you either have love or you don't. And he said that's not really true. He said we should think of these three realities as three movements of the soul that have to keep on moving.

[32:52]

Think of them, he says, imagine them as three young girls. So imagine them as feminine. Feminine movements of the soul, whether you're a man or a woman. They're feminine movements. And he says, and imagine, picture the scene, these three young girls are walking down the street on their way to school. You see, faith, hope, and love have to keep learning throughout our life, is what he's implying. We're never finished with faith, hope, and love. They have to mature. They have to grow. So we never have enough faith or enough hope or enough love. The faith and hope and love you and I had yesterday is not enough for today. It's not like you study a catechism and boom, you have faith, hope, and love and that's it and you just hold on to that. No. Life keeps presenting us with more mountains. With more challenges. And my faith has to stretch to embrace more. And my hope has to stretch. And my love has to stretch. That's what he's implying. So they're young girls. They're not mature. They have to grow. They're on their way to school because they're in the school of life.

[33:54]

And he says, imagine they're holding hands. You can't separate them. There's no such thing as saying, well I have faith but I need to work on my love. Or I have love but I don't have faith and hope. He's saying no. When one grows, they all grow. They're interconnected. You can't really separate trust, hope, and love. And he says, so they're walking hand in hand down the street going to school. And he says, now most people would imagine, well probably faith is the one in the middle. Or maybe you think love is the one in the middle. He says, uh-uh. Hope is the one in the middle. Holding the hands of faith and love. And he says, hope is the smallest one. It's the littlest girl. The others are the two older sisters. Interesting image. And he says, and if you look more closely at your life it's little hope that's pulling the other two forward. It's the head of the other two pulling them along. What he's saying is the little hope goes a long way.

[34:59]

Hope. But why do we have hope? Hope, from the Bible's point of view, hope springs up from something you've heard. You see, and Abraham and Sarah move forward because they've heard this voice that whispers what they think is a promise. And it gives rise to a deep hope in them. And they decide to trust that. And it's going to be challenged throughout the story, if you remember. That's not over. Once they go on, the journey continues. They continue to go up mountains. They face many crosses, to put it another way. Many deaths. And many renewed acts of trust and hope and love. It's a risk for them. It costs them a great deal as it costs us. It costs us safety and false glory and protection.

[36:02]

The protection of all our illusions. I believe every person, I think inside the heart of every person, God is whispering something that is a promise. That gives rise to a hope. And I don't think any of us fully know the hope in us that carries us forward. I think we only know a piece of it. And I don't think we fully even understand the promise. You know, Abraham and Sarah thought they did. What did they think the promise was? A kind of immortality, right? For the ancients, how do you become immortal? Progeny. You live on in your children. And land is permanent, right? It's solid. That's all that symbolizes. It's the promise of eternal life. A kind of eternal life. But how do Christians? We say, well, they were sort of getting a little bit of it. But remember we said yesterday, still the back of God, right? They don't still fully understand it. And we say in Christ we see that it's not

[37:04]

really about a specific geography of land that you'll own. And it's not necessarily about having a lot of descendants. Eternal life and glory is not about that. Christ reveals the true promise because he's the only one that can truly hear it. He is the only one, as John says, who knows the Father and the Father knows him. And anyone he chooses to reveal him. Jesus, you see, has heard the voice in you and me before you and I will ever hear it. Jesus knows this voice of God whispering in us. And he knows the promise. That's why we go to him. That's why in the transfiguration story they only see Jesus. He's the one we must see. He's the one we must go to to learn what is this promise. What is this voice whispering in us? And what is the hope

[38:07]

that's in us? It's the hope of glory. Of true glory. Which is this love seeking to pour itself out and raise up to new life. And so it's this hope that leads us forward along the journey. It's this hope that leads us up the mountain of transfiguration which is the same as Mount Calvary. The one and same mountain. It's the glory in the cross, the cross in the glory. The road to glory is the road of glory. How else can I say this? The cross is a symbol of the river that we are. To become who we already are requires a process. That's what journey means. A process. So the cross has a double meaning.

[39:08]

When my normal consciousness has to let go of all the false identities, it feels like a cross. It's a process like a cross. It's a dying. It's a letting go. It's an emptying out. But what do we discover? Hopefully we discover who we really are as a river of life. But what is this river of life? It's a letting go. It's a cross too. A different kind. It's a cross of life. It's a pouring out. So to become who we already are requires a process which is the cross. But also who we already are is a process. Is in process. Is a river of love pouring itself out. And it will always be that. Heaven is not some static place. Heaven is where we will all be one in the river that we are. In the river that is love pouring

[40:12]

itself out all the time. Do you hear what I'm saying? The cross has a double meaning then. The cross symbolizes all the suffering that human beings go through because we cling to the wrong thing. But the cross also reveals who God is. God is a reality that pours itself out. And that's what happens on crosses. People pour their guts out. Pour their blood out. Pour their lives out. Jesus reveals the true nature, the true face, and that's God's glory. That's what makes God life. To create life you must pour yourself out. That is God's glory. And that's what I mean when I say the glory is in the cross, the cross is in the glory. That's what Eliot, the poet, meant when he said, you know, we travel, we leave the place where we start, and we travel through our whole life on the journey, and what we find is we're back at the place

[41:12]

where we started. But we know it for the first time, he writes. We think we travel the road of the cross, but you don't suddenly land in heaven and there's no emptying out. No, you find I'm back to the cross again. But now I understand a different kind of cross. A different kind of journey. Saint Gregory of Nyssa said eternal life is eternal journeying, is eternal progress, is eternal discovery, is eternal pouring out. What I'm saying is you never arrive at the end of the journey. What you realize is that the journey is the thing. Heaven is the journey. Heaven is the pouring out of your life. That's what heaven is. And the way to heaven is the pouring out of your life. The way is the destiny. It sounds like double talk, but I think there's a truth in there. Let me give you a little bit of an

[42:12]

example from a real life experience. Back to New Hampshire. When I was there, I used to have to come back to California a couple of times for some meetings. And I returned back to New Hampshire in the middle of a snow storm. And a little bit of a shaky landing and landed and the other monk there, Fr. Bruno, came to pick me up. And you know, we could barely reach the car. We were slipping and sliding because the snow was also with some sleet. It was forming ice along the way. And the airport was about a 20 minute drive from our little monastery. And so I was sliding trying to get in with my luggage. And I said, wow, are the roads like this? He says, yeah, there's ice patches all along. I said, drive carefully. So we're driving along and we're two miles from the house and he hits an ice patch. There's cars behind us and the car goes into a spin. And of course, the first thing I yelled here in New England, you know what you're supposed to do, but you never do. And I said, steer into the direction of the skin, which is not the natural thing. The car goes that way, you go the opposite, which just makes it spin. And of course, it was too late. He had already followed his natural reactions and the car

[43:16]

started spinning. Well, what else could I say? Enjoy the ride. So I just sat there and I was shocked that I wasn't afraid. And of course, you've got to remember, this is in the middle of a storm. And so we're spinning around and as his headlights are going around, all you're seeing is sparkling snow with icicles because, remember, it had been sleet. And it was the most mesmerizing experience. As we're spinning and spinning, I felt like, my God, this life felt like some winter wonderland. And my mouth was opening. We're spinning and spinning. And I said, wow, this is wonderful. And we're spinning around. We get out of the spin and we go off to the side of the road and we hit, fortunately they had been plowing, and right in front of the tree line were these big banks of snow. So we just went into the snow. Still upright. And then there was silence. And Father Brunner, you've got to understand, he's an older man and he, I tend to find him emotionally understated. So there was silence and then he said, almost with a mumble, that was something.

[44:16]

And I could hardly contain myself. And I couldn't get out so we had to get out and we couldn't back out. So we went to a nearby farmhouse to get some help. So I'm standing there and I'm feeling wonderful and glorious. I said, this was fantastic. And I'm beside myself wondering, in the past I would have been scared to death. Why do I not feel fear? And then I remember a car came with a young guy driving the other way and he stopped to say, do you need some help? And I went over to him and I said, hey, how are you? You know, I felt like I loved him. You know, and we're a long lost friend. I felt this connection. And he got out of the car and, oh yeah, oh yeah. Oh yeah, I know so and so. All of this stuff. And we forgot about the car and then finally Bruno came and somebody was pulling us out. I couldn't sleep for hours. And I journaled, what on earth? This is an unusual experience for me. Normally I would have been frightened. I said, why do I feel so alive? And I remember reflecting back, the sense I had as we were spinning is that I was in a doorway between

[45:25]

two worlds. Life and death. I was right on the doorway. Right on the meeting point. And it was spinning around. Because either could have happened. I could have died into another life or returned. Spinning around. And I felt an energy and a power being in that middle point. That still point that Eliot also has in another poem of his. The world is turning, but there's a still point around which everything turns. And I felt a power and an energy. That's the cross and the glory. The relationship of death and life. Of glory and the cross. Is somehow this threshold. And you realize that's where you really want to be in life. You want to stand at the meeting point of the two. Stand right dead center. That's me up on the mountain in this fog that's all lit up with the cross on my back. They're right joined together. And if we could only stand on this threshold between life and death. Between the glory and

[46:28]

the cross, I think we'd meet Christ there. And if we could only do that with an abundance of faith, hope and love. You know, the older I get, the more I realize how difficult it is to truly embrace the road to glory, the road of glory, with an abundance of trust, hope and love as Jesus did. We're always running away a thousand times a day. And this is our only vocation. Our faith, our hope, our love must keep on going, keep on growing as we're challenged each day and at each stage of our life to embrace the road to glory, which is the road of glory. We have to be bound for glory, realizing we are born in glory, as I said yesterday, along the road to glory, which is the road of glory, which is climbing the mountain of the Transfiguration, which is climbing Mount Calvary. As I conclude,

[47:32]

I want to read a poem of Thomas Merton that captures some of what I'm trying to say in this mysterious connection between the road to glory being the road of glory, between cross and glory. It's entitled All the Way Down, and he bases it on a reflection of the story of Jonah, the book of Jonah chapter two, although he's calling him the old-style Jonas. He says, I went down into the cavern all the way down to the bottom of the sea. I went down lower than Jonas in the whale. No one ever got so far down as me. I went down lower than any diamond mine, deeper than the lowest hole in Kimberley, all the way down. I thought I was the devil. He was no deeper down than me. And when they thought that I was gone forever, that I was all the way in hell, I got right back

[48:36]

into my body. I came back out and rang my bell. No matter how they try to harm me now, no matter where they may lay me in the grave, no matter what injustices they do, I've seen the root of all that believe. I've seen the room where life and death are made. And I have known the secret forge of war. I even saw the womb that all things come from, for I got down so far. But when they thought that I was gone forever, that I was all the way in hell, I got right back into my body and came back out and rang my bell. Let us sit in silence.

[49:33]

@Text_v004
@Score_JJ