Dear readers, I am preparing for quite a funk this coming holiday season. My life is turned upside down. Things are changing, and this is inevitable. Changes have been coming for a while, but we all know that the holiday season can be taxing in such a situation. And I want you to know that I am trying to remain thankful and hopeful. Trying. Will I succeed? I’ll let you know in January. Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the holiday season, and I intend to maintain and meditate on the hope that is imbued in the reason for the civic holiday. I have blogged about hope many times. I firmly believe everything that I have written for this grand community. And the opposite of hope is despair. This is a paradigm that has been central to my life for its entirety. Let’s look at each in turn and see where that gets us.
First, an image. You know it. Anakin has left the comfort of the arms of his lover, Padme. Rising early, he is tormented by his past. He is unable to make peace with circumstances beyond his control. This young Padawan, untimely ripped from the embrace of his mother, is now bearing an atlasian weight on his shoulders. He has no peace there, on the shores of the Naboo Lake Country. In the idyllic serenity, he should have found communion with the living force. Instead he eschews all hope of the wisdom in the Force. His meditation led him to despair. Without being prepared for this type of horror possible in the Galaxy, Anakin prepares to fall from grace and embrace his despair. In a moment when he has found a friend and partner, his disinclined heart is drawn away from the light and enshrouded in the dark. You know what’s next. A clandestine trip. A rescue too late. A soul-deadening slaughter.
Even though receiving the kind hand of Obi-Wan, the nurturing tutelage of Yoda, the guidance of Jocasta Nu, the friendship of Bariss, Anakin turned to himself as the measure of all choices. And in that choice, he made an idol that would no longer raise him up to greater maturity, but to one that would continue to degrade, until it could be redeemed by Love. Anakin failed to be forgiving to himself.
Forgiveness is necessary as both the first and final step of a recovery. Dear readers, this is where I am struggling too. And I tell you I do not know how to forgive. I know I should. I know that it heals and that it is possible. Yet, much like the ancient ways of wisdom, it must be lived and experienced, and can never been written or taught in a classroom. It is about letting go of my pride, my fighting to be seen as right, my misordered love of myself. It is about loving the other because the other is eminently lovable.
And in the small ways in which I have found a way to forgive, I find that giving thanks is both the beginning and the culmination of that sacrament of the human spirit. Forgiveness gives way to Thanksgiving. We hold onto little wrongs, to misbehaviors as if they are precious to us. By dashing those stained things against a washing stone, we may find a way to sing Alleluia! with the heavenly choir. By taking myself out of the center of my life, by not being my own golden calf idol, I have a space to put Christ. The one who forgives is now there, offering to do the heavy lifting while I weep for my sins and give up all my self-centered ambitions. I weep and wail as my old self dies and a new resurrected person has the possibility to emerge. I respond with thanksgiving to the One who now brings life. Hope is reborn because of thanksgiving. Hope leads to more thanksgiving.
Who was the greater sinner during the trial of Christ? Judas or Peter? Initially, it was Peter. Keep reading, the shock will wear off. Judas ratted out Jesus for some money. He thought that his leader would be imprisoned, and that he would make a bit of coin off of the exchange. Dastardly. Peter did worse. Without any benefit to himself, no temptation from outside of himself, Peter denied even knowing the man. He denied even knowing Christ. This is the worse of the offenses. Judas still knew who Christ was. Peter denied knowing him. And to say you know someone in their cultural context was to value them as closer than even family. The difference is this: Judas did not believe that his sins could be forgiven. He despaired of ever having his relationship with God righted. This is why he went to shamefully kill himself. Peter, however in all of his wretchedness, still maintained hope that he could be forgiven. Not forgiven by himself, but by the One he had denied. Christ did not deny knowing Peter, but brought him back into the family fold some time later. Judas died in despair, Peter persisted and repented in Hope.
And that brings us to hope in the good things to come. Remember when I said that Anakin could only be redeemed by Love? That Love was delivered in the person of his son Luke. It was the last act done by, for, and to Anakin. Luke himself is gallons of hope. The great character study of his pure soul is at the twin sunset. He looks across the arid waste dreaming of the potential life to come. He dreams of distant stars and the fantastic stories told there. He despairs not, but hopes for the fulfilling journey. We move forward to his hasty exit from Death Star 2 and there is a confident peace on his face. I believe that he is giving thanks for the existential moment a few minutes before. He gave thanks on Tatooine and was brought to greater things in the Galaxy. He gives thanks that now his family has found redemption, even if only for a spare moment on this stage.
The great feast of Thanksgiving is in a few days. I will continue to give thanks to God for all things – its struggles, triumphs, challenges. But mostly because it is by giving thanks that I have a chance to learn how to forgive and receive the Love that God has available to give.
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Please leave comments on this and all my posts – I really look forward to it. You can find me on Twitter at @adelphotheos and email at jamesw@CoffeeWithKenobi.com, occasionally at TheForceandFaith.blogspot.com as long as I am not listening to the latest edition of the Coffee With Kenobi podcast!Powered by Sidelines