Google Art Project
via Wikimedia Commons
Many hearts carry the ponderous burden of accumulation of merit and building of virtue.
We shoulder such burdens when we are taught and believe that doing good deeds is a way to earn a reward. When we choose to believe that the essence of a man is his historical record. When we decide that, somehow, we are both sacrificing our individual will to the Will of God and personally doing good works at the same time. When we believe that, somehow, we are both abandoning all concepts of self and purifying the self simultaneously.
Such heavy thoughts, if we believe in them. The heart of life is not captured by such mental acrobatics. The heart of life has nothing to do with debits and credits.
The heart of life lies in the spider trapped in the house. It beats in the bee drowning in the dogs’ water. We see the truth in the wounded gopher being harassed by the dogs. The rays of the holy heart pound in the cats and dogs in the animal shelters, the shivering poor encamped in doorways and alleys, and the processed flesh sold in neat boxes and bags.
These choices and opportunities are not merits, they are not virtues. They are beings, creatures like us, children of God… our brothers. Our sisters.
Let us discard the sitting and pondering of the accumulation of merit. Do not diligently tithe so that you might think your virtue accomplished. These constructs of mind are no different than the other accumulations of self. It is better to understand than you can never earn the grace and goodness and love that you are nevertheless given. Simple be thankful and reach across the divide.
Reach across the divide! Bridge the canyon of selfishness and self. Without hesitation, rescue the spider even should it bite you. Cup the bee out of the water, even should you be stung. Do not do it so that you might be rewarded. Do not do it so that you can be proud of yourself as a virtuous person. It is not a spiritual decision, not an intellectual decision, not anything to do with merit or virtue in that moment the divide appears.
No, the divide appears when your consciousness is offered the Hand of the Beloved. In that moment when the wounded gopher appears in front of you, you are the gopher. Suddenly, the Beloved’s Hand is the hand of this body you call yours, suddenly the Beloved’s Heart beats in this chest. When the divide appears, you are granted the choice of whether or not the Beloved may reach across and embrace you. In that moment, you can snatch your body back, He will not deny it to you.
To reach across the divide is to accept Him, to willingly hear compassion’s surge in His Heart, to choose to remain the bloodied and wounded gopher until His Work is done. That is no merit or virtue. It is accepting the Love of God.
It is choosing the miracle.