Sunday, April 12, 2009

Going Through the Motions...

an Easter reflection on the song by Matthew West.

Ever feel like you’re going through the motions of life? You know – doing what is right, or at least trying to – but more because it’s the next thing on the list, some set expectation for your role, or chasing the insane caricature of the ‘good little boy’ or ‘good little girl’ that we’ve built up in our mind that we chase…all the while, losing this life… all the while not feeling much of anything… all the while making going through the motions what life is about – and forgetting (or not ever really knowing) how to live?

I’ve felt that way. I’ve had times when I sort of ‘woke up’ and asked myself what it was all about. To all external measures, I was being a ‘good little boy’ – I was doing it all fairly well. I was responsible, I was making the actions of caring and loving. I’ve ‘woke up’ before wondering what I was doing…going through the motions.

This morning at about 4:30am – an hour and a half into the Easter Vigil, I ‘woke up’ realizing that, again, I’d been somewhat going through the motions of this beautiful liturgy. My feet hurt – by back hurt – my legs hurt… I was tired. The readings & responses (all 7 of them) were beautiful and delivered beautifully…and as they were winding down, the words of this song by Matthew West came back to me. Here I was – if I wasn’t careful, I’d miss what was going on…by going through the motions.

Just like life…

This might hurt – its not safe.
But I know that I’ve gotta’ make a change.
I don’t care if I break – at least I’ll be feeling something.
‘Cause just OK is not enough.
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life.


It hurts to try to awaken – and stay awake – in life. It hurts to acknowledge that ‘going through the motions’ is sometimes all we can do. It is humbling to realize that we’ve been moving along, going through the motions, but missing it all. Yes, it hurts – but there’s hope in saying to ourselves “I’ve gotta’ make a change.” That voice that speaks within is a gift of God in us… is the Christ living in us, eager to break free yet again from the tomb and create again the resurrection joy of Easter in our lives.

And – on the BEST of days – on the BEST of my awakenings – in the moments of my BEST surrender, I say “I don’t care if I break…” at least I’ll be feeling something authentic, something REAL, something more than the actor on the stage… life – life within. No, in those moments, I refuse to surrender for “just OK”. The ‘Christ living within’ encourages me to see that life is NOT nothingness…if I can fight through, if I can touch the hem of His garment and be awakened to the ‘Easter-morning-of-every-day’ of life lived in Him.

It hurts sometimes – and it sure isn’t safe. It isn’t safe to break bread with sinners and outcasts and those on the fringes of society. It isn’t safe to offer my whole life to Christ – because when I offer it, He will take it (THANK YOU GOD!!!)…He will ALWAYS take it when we offer it, and break it…releasing the seed within…letting it fall into the ‘death’ of the soil, to mix with life giving water of our baptismal promises, and to grow new, and taller, and more beautiful…to once again seed itself and repeat the process… each time reaching just a little higher to the Son that warms it into growth.

No regrets, not this time. I’m gonna’ let my heart defeat my mind.
Let Your love make me whole – I think I’m finally feeling something.
‘Cause just OK is not enough.
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life.


No – regrets aren’t for this pilgrimage. If we are to be people of pilgrimage – prefigured by Israel in the desert following nothing but (nothing but!!! And yet everything there is!!) a pillar of cloud and fire wherever it leads. How can we ‘wander through this life’ with our hurts and pains and concerns and not drown in ‘the motions’? Only if we let our heart defeat our mind…the heart that burns within calling us to BE who we ARE (children of a Living God, Who knew us before we were knit together in our mother's womb, who are precious enough that God Himself became man - and died to destroy death forever so we might be with Him)… calling us to understand with our mind what we know to be true in our hearts, rather than explaining away with ‘pure reason’ the affections and movements of our hearts. Only then – only in these moments – can we see His love making us whole. Only in these moments do we begin to ‘finally feel something’.

But – rather than condemn the moments between these awakenings as ‘nothingness’ – perhaps ours is to see, rather, that they remind us who we are…beings dependant on the authenticity of Christ to escape the nothingness of life. We need not flog ourselves emotionally with the fragileness or dependence of our nature… we need not abandon our quest to fight through ‘the nothingness times of this life’ just because we so often ‘fall asleep’ going through the motions. We just once again surrender, and with humble confidence that we can, we reject ‘just OK’ yet again…and pray with all our heart:

I don’t wanna’ go through the motions…
I don’t wanna’ go one more day…
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me!
I don’t want to spend my whole life asking -
‘What if I had given everything?’


My God – I’m weak, and poor, and forgetful, and whiny, and fragile…
I too easily fail to pay attention – I far too often slip into going through the motions.

But with all that I am – I hunger for Your all consuming passion – Your all consuming Love. I REFUSE to spend the rest of my life asking ‘what if’! I REFUSE to spend any single moment more knowingly going through the motions.

Take me all the way! Take me all the way!
‘Cause I don’t wanna’ go through the motions…
I’m finally feeling something real!


Yes – take me all the way! Take all of me! I give to You as best I can all I have that You are entitled to…which leaves NOTHING for me to withhold from You. I even give You my failure – my utter dependence on You to ‘stay awake’ – I give to You even those times when I slip into ‘going through the motions’ because sometimes they're all I have to give. And, if I try to hide them from You, if I become too embarrassed to welcome You into them, I’ll never be able to cry out to You:

I don’t wanna’ go through the motions…
I don’t wanna’ go one more day…
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me!
Take me all the way! Take me all the way!
‘Cause I don’t wanna’ go through the motions…
I’m finally feeling something real!


On this, the greatest day – on this day when You once and for all overcame the powers of death that pull hard on our lives, let us know the Easter triumph… I am Yours. I give it all to You: Happy Easter.

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Post Script:
The "Opening Prayer" that transitions the 'readings' part of the Easter Vigil to the 'mass' part. (OK - one day I'll know how to say that more refined like...) Whole-hearted service...'just OK is not enough'...

"Let us pray:
Lord God,
you have brightened this night
with the radiance of the risen Christ.
Quicken the spirit of sonship in your Church;
to give you whole-hearted service.

Grant this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen

1 comment:

Christina said...

I gotta say... I'm surprised you don't have any comments on this.
Very well written brother. Thanks for sharing your heart with any who choose to read.
Keep being intentional with your life. :)