Thursday, 6 December 2012

6th December 2012

Life from birth to death is in constant process of change. The process of adjustment to continuous minor changes is automatic. We are hardly aware of them, until we quieten ourselves and re-focus our attention, as in meditation, or when checking how to achieve something, like shouldering a burden we're unused to, balancing, attempting to read small print with weakening eyes.

We observe more consciously, reflect on and celebrate major change: childhood development stages, adolescence, leaving home for work or college, marriage, childbearing, vocation, major illness, bereavement. The meaning of existence is made partly from experiences great and small. It also comes from connections we make with others during this journey, above all, in relation to One with us always from start to finish. One who dwells in us, with us and beyond us; One in whom we live, move and have our being.

It's not that we're fully conscious of God and who God is for us at any time. We can sometimes be aware of God without understanding, unable to interpret this to ourselves or others. We can learn from religious practice or spiritual discipline, ways and means of interpreting this awareness, but ignore what we are taught, resisting or taking ages to be persuaded of the truth. "Late have I loved you Lord." said St Augustine after his libertine years rejecting his Christian mother's appeal to live by the Gospel. Some people feel their lives are invaded by God, and experience being changed by grace from beyond. They interpret this as conversion to life of faith in God, as St Paul and many others have.

Does God force Himself on anyone? Doesn't this violate the freedom God confers as part of human nature? Sometimes experiences and events in life give the impression of God breaking in unexpectedly, perhaps unwanted. This has more to do with hidden aspects of our nature of which we know little. Jung invited observation that conscious experience is like the visible tip of an iceberg, mostly hidden beneath the waves. The background processing of sensations, memories and understanding as thoughts which may or may not percolate up to consciousness from below suggests how the mind/brain works.

If human existence is immersed in divine Being, the unconscious may be understood as a dimension where God dwells hidden, closer to us than we know, until we learn to delve within ourselves. When God seems to break into conscious experience, is it the outcome of a dialogue in the unconscious between self and God, resolved by emerging into consciousness, changing what we believe about everything? It doesn't matter whether we interpret this as God intervening from within, or above and beyond. We cannot fathom how grace works to make change and bring all things to fulfillment under God's reign. Grace manifests itself in all the affairs of the world as in the affairs of the heart, if only we learn how to perceive it, and awaken to welcome its Advent.

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