Today I was suddenly struck by the awareness: I am so grateful that I am a Christian. Awed and amazed, I welled up with rejoicing the rest of the day.
I had been quite upset about an interaction. It made me afraid and anxious. . . generally disturbed to the core. How long would I be trapped in this anxiety?
I carved out my daily prayer time. To be honest, it was just out of sheer duty. I wish I could say that I run with alacrity each day to my Bible and quiet space, but days like today it was force of the will, like going to the doctor for a check up which I don’t want to do but have to do and just make myself do it.
I opened my Bible and was struck by these words as though seeing them for the first time: “Let all that you do be done with love” (I Cor. 15). With love–YES–this is how to be fully human. This is how to be more than a brute, more than an animal. This is how to transcend the Darwinian fight for survival. This is how to approach the heavens while still on earth. This is how I want to be.
But while I desired that, I was too upset. I was chained by my upset and anxiety. I was mad. How do you just decide with your human will to do all that you do with love? It is beyond human capacity.
Then I read another passage from the Bible, a passage that I found through praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Oh how I love the Liturgy of the Hours. It is the heart and soul of my life of faith. It helps me be the Christian I want to be, the person I want to be.
The reading was from the Old Testament and it described the ark of the covenant. It described its dimensions in cubits, the gold from which it was to be made, and the cherubim that were meant to face one another on the lid. It was called The Seat of Mercy.
As by the Holy Spirit, I was overwhelmed with a supernatural conviction: Afix the ark of the covenant in your heart. Place this mercy seat in your heart, right behind your ribs, and it shall not be moved. Then you can BE MERCY to all whom you encounter.
This moment was followed by a short burst of prayer of mercy for my enemies. I prayed for compassion, goodness and kindness to be poured out on the person/persons making me so upset. I did not have positive feelings for them, but I made the choice to ask God to bless them abundantly.
The Holy Spirit enabled me in that moment to live out the call: “Let all that you do be done with love.”Could I have done that as an atheist? No way in hell. No way. No way. No way. Darwin explains well why we are so good at self-protection, so fierce about either attacking or fleeing from harm. We are wired for fear and anger. It is, on some base level, good for us. That makes it almost impossible to transcend.
But the God of love and the God who IS LOVE gave me a sudden supernatural ability to choose mercy. It was through the holy and sacred Scriptures. Were it not for grace, scripture and prayer, and the movement of the Spirit’s grace in my soul, I would never have alighted upon this solution.
I accepted the reality of the Mercy Seat placed in my heart. I then pushed through the remaining hours of my day, dealing with the problems facing me. And I just centered myself on the Mercy Seat. It changed everything. I saw differently. I heard differently. Instead of evil I saw a flicker of goodness. Instead of wrong I saw good intentions. God gave me a tongue that was able to speak a bit of goodwill with a tone of gentleness. How did that happen? How did this breakthrough come?
Honestly it is the daily miracle of my life as a Christian.