(2) God told Jeremiah to rebuke the people for their sins even though He knew they wouldn’t listen (Jeremiah 7:27). And God told Ezekiel that if he didn’t warn people of their sins, their blood would be on his hands (Ezekiel 33:1-16).
To keep our bodies less defended—to live in our bodies right now, to be present to others in a cellular way—is also the work of healing past hurts and the many memories that seem to store themselves in the body. The body never seems to stop offering its messages. Fortunately, the body never lies, even though the mind will deceive us constantly. Zen practitioners tend to be well trained in seeing this. It is very telling that Jesus usually physically touched people when he healed them; he knew where the memory and hurt were lodged: in the body itself.
If we are to come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity, then we will come to that belief by developing the capacity for a simple, clear, and uncluttered presence. Those who can be present with head, heart, and body at the same time will always encounter the Presence, whether they call it God or not. For the most part, those skills are learned by letting life come at us on its own terms, and not resisting the wonderful, underlying Mystery that is everywhere, all the time, and offered to us too. “God comes to us disguised as our life,” as I have heard Paula D’Arcy say so beautifully in her talks and retreats.
God resists our evil and conquers it with good, or how could God ask the same of us?! Think about that. God shocks and stuns us into love. God does not love us if we change; God loves us so that we can change. Only love effects true inner transformation, not duress, guilt, shunning, or social pressure. Love is not love unless it is totally free. Grace is not grace unless it is totally free. You would think Christian people would know that by now, but it is still a secret of the soul.
We have been graced for a truly sweet surrender, if we can radically accept being radically accepted—for nothing! “Or grace would not be grace at all” (Romans 11:6)! As my father Francis put it, when the heart is pure, love responds to Love alone and has little to do with duty, obligation, requirement, or heroic anything. It is easy to surrender when we know that nothing but Love and Mercy are on the other side.
Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity. Otherwise, we are controlled by the past, individually and corporately. We all need to apologize and we all need to forgive or this human project will surely self-destruct. No wonder almost two-thirds of Jesus’s teaching is directly or indirectly about forgiveness. Otherwise, history winds down into the taking of sides, deep bitterness, and remembered hurts, plus the violence that inevitably follows. As others have said, forgiveness is to let go of all hope for a different or better past. It is what it is, and such acceptance leads to great freedom, as long as there is also accountability and healing in the process. Nothing new happens without apology and forgiveness. It is the divine technology for the regeneration of every age and every situation. The “unbound” ones are best prepared to unbind the rest of the world.
The suffering creatures of this world have a divine Being who does not judge or condemn them, or in any way stand aloof from their plight, but instead, a Being who hangs with them and flows through them, and even toward them, in their despair. How utterly different this is from all the greedy and bloodthirsty gods of most of world history! What else could save the world? What else would the human heart love and desire? Further, this God wants to love and be loved rather than be served (John 15:15). How wonderful is that?! It turns the history of religion on its head. Jesus said it of himself: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32) and “from my breast will flow fountains of living water” (7:38). It is only the “harsh and dreadful” commingling of both divine love and human tears which opens the deepest floodgates of both God and the soul. Eventually, I must believe, it will open history itself. I will sink my anchor here. To mourn for one is to mourn for all. To mourn with all is to fully participate at the very foundation of Being Itself. For some reason, which I have yet to understand, beauty hurts. Suffering opens the channel through which all of Life flows and by which all creation breathes, and I still do not know why. Yet it is somehow beautiful, even if it is a sad and tragic beauty.