I suppose you could call it something of a dance.
Perhaps more like a combination of skipping and galloping and sidestepping.
Semi-organized stumbling. Futterwacken.
All I know is that it undoubtedly wasn’t pretty to look at for those unfortunate souls that might have seen me do it.
This past Sunday I had something of a Jesus rush. Don’t know how else to explain it. It rose up in me long before I even dressed for the morning or got into my car to drive to work (church). It started in the solitude of my study, while reciting the first three chapters of Mark’s gospel. Doing that doesn’t usually lead to such a rush. But I suddenly found myself quite literally imbibing Jesus.
It’s as if the windblown nature of his life and walk simply seized me. Jesus suddenly appears at the Jordan to be baptized, heaven is torn asunder, the divine breath descends on him, and then that breath blew him right out of the water into the wilderness. For forty days. Then he’s back. He blows into local synagogues, shares the kingdom message, demonstrates it by blowing away demons and healing the sick, and then, refusing to be tethered like a kite to any one place, he blows about all Galilee, showing up now by the lake, now in the house, now on the mountainside, now in the grain fields.
Blowing in like a Messianic Mary Poppins with a twist, he shows up in Levi’s house for a dinner with societal rejects, and answering questions about fasting in between bites of food – or perhaps even better, with his mouth full. I had never recited that story dealing with the question about fasting as if I had my mouth full of food, but that’s how it came out that morning. I could tangibly feel his freedom from all external restraints and censures of potentially somber and serious onlookers.
I didn’t solemnly pray for such windblown spontaneity and freedom. In fact, I don’t know that I prayed at all, or if I did, what I may have said.
I just know I suddenly had something of it. Something of him.
And so I futterwacked my way through the morning, treasuring every moment, every conversation, every greeting, every hug, every encounter, every prayer, every movement. Worship set and sermon were but the soundtrack to the divine play into which I had already been drawn. Even watercoloring during the service was but an outward symbol of the living colors I was sensing everywhere without, within.
Then at day’s end, I read Thomas Merton’s journal entry devotions for that day:
Out to sea, without ties, without restraints! Not the sea of passion, on the contrary, the sea of purity and love that is without care, that loves God alone immediately and directly in Himself as the All (and the seeming Nothing that is all). The unutterable confusion of those who think that God is a mental object and that to love “God alone” is to exclude all other objects to concentrate on this one! Fatal. (Oh amen – amen, amen, amen, amen! That’s me not Merton…) Yet that is why so many misunderstand the meaning of contemplation and solitude, and condemn it. But I see too that I no longer have the slightest need to argue with them. I have nothing to justify and nothing to defend: I need only defend this vast simple emptiness from my own self, and the rest is clear. (Through the cold and darkness I hear the Angelus ringing in the monastery.) The beautiful jeweled shining of honey in the lamplight. Festival!
Yeah. That was it. Merton futterwacked too.
Out to sea – out to lunch, even – without restraints. No need to argue and nothing to defend or justify. The shattering of God as external object to fawn over and glorify in ways deemed suitable by onlookers past and present; as object to be shelved and unshelved at will by our schedule and whim. But instead to know and love him alone immediately and directly in himself as the All.
No formula for this. Nothing here that can be produced or planned or prodded.
It was a wind that blew into my room, unsettling any and all of my own encrusted personal, religious, brooding stalactites and stalagmites.
And I was futterwacked.
Come on, Papa. Do that again.