Solitaries and The Lindisfarne Rule; Part 2
Solitaries of Lindisfarne; Reflections on the Rule:
Our Community prayer is, “that I may be as Christ to those I meet; that I may find Christ within them.”
It’s about connectedness.
“Being Christ” is not a role we play, and finding Christ within others is not about grafting our ideas of “Christ” onto people and then using the other person as our “straight man” in life’s onstage performance.
I find this prayer now has become all jumbled up with some new ideas I’ve had about sin; along with some amazing theological perspectives from a Wesleyan minister named Morgan Guyton.
The sin ideas are about learning to untangle myself from the notion that my sin belongs to me— about unraveling the notion that it’s my obligation to figure out whether my actions are right or wrong.
Guyton suggests that Jesus didn’t come to save us from our own sins, but to save the world from us; from the consequences of our sinning. Combining that idea with the idea that we are all connected, and I got a brilliant flash: Jesus rescues other people from the consequences of my wrongdoing, and the corollary is that Jesus rescues me from the consequences of other people’s wrongdoing.
It’s all one saving action, applied at the intersection of suffering and grace.
To be Christ to one another is to be a spiritual first responder.
On the negative side, it means to decline to make up rules about right and wrong; to refuse to lay blame; to recuse ourselves from any sort of quid pro quo transactions or tit-for-tat pettiness; it means to disqualify ourselves from competing in the grand championship of life. On the positive side, it means to “bear one another’s burdens” as Paul suggested we do. Our biggest burden is that of “sin.” Not the notion of sin that would have us saying to God, “It’s all my fault, and I’m sorry, please forgive me;” but the concept of sin that says, “It’s not about whose fault it is, it’s that we aren’t paying attention! Please forgive us.”
Guyton reminded me of something that Amma Beth mentioned to me, that her favorite translation of the Greek word “metanoia” is to “go beyond.” Metanoia is usually translated as “repentance,” but that word has gotten all grubby and stained by centuries of misuse. I’d like to suggest that forgiveness and repentance are the same thing. No, really, exactly the same thing!
The maneuver of forgiveness has the same form as the exercise of repentance.
In order to be Christ, we must see Christ. In order to see Christ, we must be Christ. We have to “go beyond” all our niggly notions, because in Christ we are impelled to look past all of our prized preconceptions and our costly convictions.
It’s necessary for us to go and sell all of our prized ideological possessions; then give the proceeds to the poor (and never forget, we are the poor) and then go off and follow the Way.
What would be the proceeds of such a metaphysical sale, anyway? I’d like to suggest that the Realm of God functions on a spiritual economy of exchange—
We’ll trade our need to be right for the freedom to be kind.
We’ll barter our morality for the grace of generosity.
We’ll dicker for the greatest amount of peace and patience we can possibly get in return for our anger and resentment.
But that’s not enough—
Nope, once we’ve made all our trades, and gotten all the best deals we can, the next step is to give away everything. Yup.
All that juicy kindness?
—Hand it over!
All that heady generosity?
—Splash it everywhere!
That humongous hoard of peace and patience?
—Throw a party with it!
Give it all away and see what happens—