Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Joy of the Saints

I spent most of my life trying to guard against laziness in my Christian walk, against the trap of thinking “Let us sin more so that grace may abound,” against the fear that Christ might ever say to me “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat,” against any such temptation to think that what I do does not matter. I imagine that any of my readers who don’t know me assume that, with the frequency in which I write about Grace, I must have one of those quiet gracious spirits and love reading books by Brennan Manning and Henri Nouwen. In truth, I still can’t stomach them. I can’t stand people who talk about Grace all the time, who make it sound like what we do does not matter, who suggest that the Master will reward the labourer who begins at the eleventh hour as much as he who had begun at the first.

Maybe one day.

But in the mean time, Grace is preposterous enough of a concept that it just might be true. At any rate, I am slowly realizing that, were my life a Shakespearean tragedy, my great tragic flaw is not likely to be laziness. Whether or not I destroy myself through my driving burden to change the world or my lust for spiritual refinement is another story. And Grace, preposterous, ridiculous, scandalous Grace, would be the compelling plot-twist that would turn even that tragedy into a comedy in the end.

Anyway, I pondered this concept at an outdoor cafe where I tried to dodge the sporadic Irish rain on a Sunday morning, right before walking into the Cathedral downtown and sitting in front of the wooden crucifix. Behind that severe display of suffering, suffering raw and intense enough that all our suffering is included within it, was a glorious display of stained glass and marble statues of rejoicing saints, all of which seemed to declare to me one simple message:

“The work has been done.”

A cathedral is a place of celebration, celebration that Christ has sent us to reap what we have not worked for, that Others have done the hard work and we are reaping the benefits of Their labour. It is finished, One might say.

For a girl named “Industrious,” joining in that celebration takes just about all the faith I can muster. Entering into the joy of the saints, the countless throngs who surround the throne and forever sing hymns to the glory of His name, who celebrate Christ’s completed work in the cosmic story of history, may take a whole life to prepare for, for a melancholy wrestler like me.

But it would be a good life’s work.


Anonymous said...

I like Manning.

Not that you have to.

Em the luddite said...

Most good people do. I probably would if I were a healthier person.