The Futility of Boxing an Overflowing Fountain

Aren’t you sometimes tempted to peak at a trailer before seeing an eagerly awaited movie? Well, I was recently caught off guard by a funny and significant clip. While a voice tells the audience that our history is woven of events, heroes, adventures, dramas, and comedies that flavor our lives, we taste in wide-screen some of these breathtaking and engrossing scenes of love, war, and freedom, even an eclipse. We moviegoers are then taken by surprise to see the same events happening on smaller and smaller screens—from the giant movie screen to the microscreen of a mobile phone—until it is hardly possible to see what is going on. And while the narrative voice complains about this intolerable reduction of the riches of life, a sudden explosion of the smallest screen occurs, sort of an act of rebellion from life itself that refuses to be sacrificed and almost buried in a too small technological grave that cannot contain her.

     While meditating on the readings this evening and the eclipse as well as the recent tragedies in Charlottesville and Barcelona, I felt this same complaint burst forth, affirming the irreducibility of all manifestations of life to fixed, narrow, imposed containers. As former Black Panther, Eldridge Cleaver, says in “Soul on Fire” after being on the run for seven years before turning himself in: “A general law of causes may be that their toxic content gains potency in proportion to their shrinkage in volume.” Maybe some of those rules, patterns, and laws that were constructed in the past for good purposes, may not still be serving and enhancing the life that they wanted to spread? From the beginning, and at every moment of her unpredictable adventure, the creative and loving Energy has experienced herself flaring forth through innumerable inventions and upheavals in the Universe—as planets, sentient and human beings, cultures and religions, our consciousness, emotions, relationships, interactions. The God of life is permanently generating this immeasurable and challenging novelty, transmutation, and experimentation. How can we stop the process? How can we confine the overflowing Fountain into the boxes of our concepts, definitions, rules, or laws?

     In his journey, Jesus also experiences and confronts the religious constraints of his time, manifesting the compassionate God that inspires and nourishes him. He suffers the hostility of specific groups of people who try to deny or avoid the change and upheaval of life. Among them there are those who are wealthy, filled with their own goods, without care for others or for other dimensions of being; there are those who are religious, carefully engineering their own willpower, perfection, and superiority systems; and there are those who consider themselves intelligent, pretending to reduce the world to the measure of their own understanding.

     In one of his songs, the black songwriter Frank Ocean sings, “If it brings me to my knees, it’s a bad religion.” Jesus doesn’t make people bend but rather unbends the people he meets, freeing them from the obstacles or fears that imprison their existence. He awakens latent potentialities, dormant powers. Without dominion and imposition he offers a gratuitous, welcoming space that embraces vulnerability, uncertainty, suffering, and possible resurrections. He shows a revolutionary way to trust and to surrender to Someone deeper and larger than us, in whom we can fall in love. He witnesses this powerful appeal to the Source of compassion in his pining embrace from the cross.

     By pulling down every wall of separation that we continually build, Jesus purifies all things. Nothing defiles outside of us, but all dualisms and separations, marginalization and contempt come from within our personal hearts and minds, or within the heart of our cultures, religions, and societies.

     Today we experience the crisis and demise of a world that resists and opposes the birth of something fresh with its paralyzing set of tribal structures, behaviors, and rules that are attributed to tradition or to God—and are identified with the truth. We question old understandings because a transformation is breaking through, dismantling our previous conditioning. The apostle James invites us to become agents of change, to become doers of the world and not hearers only. Isn’t our individual and collective response to offer our bodies to this new life, with responsibility, care, and faith?

     With our bodies we expose ourselves to the subtle and creative breeze of God, aware of a Mystery, open and receptive to others, cultivating a language of interiority, experience, and empathy. We live at the threshold of our time without a fixed, guaranteed abode. We are cooperative with the Spirit in opening the cages and the tombs of the world. We feel reverence for the earth as conscious parts of her body. We welcome discontinuities, weakness, crises, and even death, with the hope of resurrection, of God’s transforming love.

Emmaus Community in Sonoma County                              707 787-8207

P.O. Box 776, Kenwood, CA 95452                                      jimkeck42@gmail.com