THE HAPPINESS OF DOING NOTHING

What follows is a series of thoughts that are the result of one of my recent Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations.I experienced these thoughts while sitting on a park bench in the density of winter, waiting for Christ to come and share His Real Presence. I thought, “Here I am, sitting on a park bench in the dead cold, waiting for Christ to visit me, while not presupposing that I am even worthy enough for God to sit next to a broken-down, old temple of the Holy Spirit, but hoping He will do so.” There is a strange consequence of silence and solitude, the stillness that comes with letting go of everyTHING in your life that ties you to being human, the complete abandonment to a person you love but have never seen, and the realization that you can never approach God because He is God and you are, well, you. Yet, here you sit in the hope Christ will come into your heart and just sit there with you, no words, no thoughts, no need to fill up the time with idle chatter, This reminds me of the look that comes between two people who have lived together for many, many years are endured the rocky fastness of their chosen paths, which now have become just one road which they share together. It is the look of deep, abiding, unconditional love, which the World and death cannot break apart in the hope that they will live together forever. That happiness is what I felt while in my contemplation. It is, for lack of a good description, the happiness of doing nothing.

THE NOTHINGNESS OF GOD

In my view of what is real, the World (living only in the physical and mental universes) says that nothing makes you happy except what excites you, entertains you, and what distracts you from all those foolish ideas that come from God, such as denying yourself daily, taking up your cross and following Christ. As I sit on the park branch, uncomfortable because it is so very cold, wishing I could be somewhere warm, the thought occurs to me that I must look at happiness and nothingness from the viewpoint of God, not the World. Then, I realized that the nothingness of God is more real than the nothingness espoused by the World. The paradox of God is at work. It is only when I accept nothingness as the presence of Christ in my heart that I can truly understand what St. Benedict wrote to his monks about humility in Chapter 7 of his Rule. I read Chapter 7 and the commentary by Abbot Phillip Lawrence, O.S.B., Abbey of Christ in the Desert, and encourage you to do the same. https://christdesert.org/prayer/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-7-humility/

Chapter 7: Humility

1 Brothers, Divine Scripture calls to us saying: Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:11; 18:14). 2 In saying this, therefore, it shows us that every exaltation is a kind of pride, 3 which the Prophet indicates he has shunned, saying: Lord, my heart is not exalted; my eyes are not lifted up and I have not walked in the ways of the great nor gone after marvels beyond me (Ps 130[131]:1). 4 And why? If I had not a humble spirit but were exalted instead, then you would treat me like a weaned child on its mother’s lap (Ps 130[131]:2).

5 Accordingly, brothers, if we want to reach the highest summit of humility, if we desire to attain speedily that exaltation in heaven to which we climb by the humility of this present life, 6 then by our ascending actions we must set up that ladder on which Jacob in a dream saw angels descending and ascending (Gen 28: 12). 7 Without doubt, this descent and ascent can signify only that we descend by exaltation and ascend by humility. 8 Now the ladder erected is our life on earth, and if we humble our hearts the Lord will raise it to heaven. 9 We may call our body and soul the sides of this ladder, into which our divine vocation has fitted the various steps of humility and discipline as we ascend.

10 The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (Ps 35[36]:2) and never forgets it. 11 He must constantly remember everything God has commanded, keeping in mind that all who despise God will burn in hell for their sins, and all who fear God have everlasting life awaiting them. 12 While he guards himself at every moment from sins and vices of thought or tongue, of hand or foot, of self-will or bodily desire, 13 let him recall that he is always seen by God in heaven, that his actions everywhere are in God’s sight and are reported by angels at every hour.

The nothingness of God is greater than any reality in our physical or mental universes. If you look at the spiritual universe as the opposite of what the World says is meaningful, then nothingness means everything is one in Christ. He told that he will draw all things to himself John 12:31-33 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) “31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people[a] to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Here are some random reflections I had as a result of my Lectio Divina.

  • How can nothing make me happy? Sounds like a conundrum, doesn’t it? The nothingness of Christ is the presence of the Supreme Being. Like a person who gets closer and closer to the Sun, the presence of God can annihilate our physical, mental, and spiritual being, if we approach him directly. Baptism allows us to get close to Jesus Christ, Son of God, because he is our mediator the transformer that allows us to call God, Abba, that is, Father. When we say we pray to the Blessed Mother or for the intercession of the Saints, what we mean is that our prayer does not stop with Mary or the Saint, but we ask them to join us as to give glory, praise, and honor to the Father through, with and in Jesus in the unity of the Holy Spirit. The nothingness of God contains everything that is of value.
  • In the World, nothingness does make me happy. I am uncomfortable with doing nothing. I must be productive and fill the time with something, anything, to keep myself busy. I fill this hole with reading, or watching television, or traveling to Cape San Blas, Florida, on the weekends to pass the time. This nothingness is nothing. It does not inspire nor transform, it is just a way to count time. I am not proposing that something like work, or a hobby, or family reunions, or love as the world sees it is somehow evil. It is just not complete unless I see all of reality.
  • The nothingness of God, as the name implies, contains no thing, thing being matter, physical energy, time, or space. The nothingness of God is all that is in Heaven, where there is only being who stand before the Throne of the Lamb, at the right hand of the Father, One God, yet three distinct persons, the Supreme Existence, the One who just is.
  • St. Paul in I Corinthians 2:9 says “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”— When I try to move from self to God, using the tools of Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict, or my daily Lectio Divina meditations and contemplation, I make a conscious effort to just sit in silence and solitude and just “let it be done to me according to your word”. I want to move from the nothingness of the world, which means they lack anything, to the nothingness of God which means the presence of everything. In this context, whenever I sit on a park bench in the dead of winter in silence and solitude, all I do is wait to be in the presence of Christ,
Happiness is being in the presence of Being. It is more than just a human emotion, it is the product of my allowing myself to divest my reliance on senses, and abandon all hidden agendas with Christ. This is why I am happy by the sheer nothingness of being present to God. I seek God daily where I am and as I am. Some days are better than others.

Psalm 27:4-5 New International Version (NIV)
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

uiodg

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