an Advent meditation – through imagination’s eye, going out to see John, concluded

John the baptizer burst onto the scene with fiery temperament and intemperate tongue. With words that inflamed minds and ignited hearts. With urgency that suffered gladly neither the subtlest hypocrisy nor the simplest social nicety.

Why would anyone go out to see John? Perhaps, as I have imagined it, because his message resonated in the soul’s depths. People knew they were broken, dis-eased, in need of healing. In the directness of John’s language – penetrating the darkness of the defenses of our human pretensions through which we declare to the world (and, at times, delude ourselves) that all is well – they “heard” a word of light…

Light, not of happy-ever-after sweetness – which the world didn’t, doesn’t, and never will contain – but of truth…

Truth about repentance; turning around to face afresh one’s God, one’s self, one’s reality – all of it…

Repentance that can lead to new life…

New life that forsakes a flat-line existence that neither leaps in joy for fear that it won’t last nor enters fully the experience of sorrow for fear that it will last…

New life that faces and embraces the highest, most unspeakable joys and the deepest, most unspoken sorrows – love and hatred, trust and betrayal, connection and separation, intimacy and abandonment, life and death…

New life, facing and embracing all that is, in which one may find, paradoxically, peace; an awareness that one won’t, can’t be done in, destroyed by it all, for one is a part of something greater.

According to the biblical narrative, John embodied this truth in the story of his life. Not a happy-ever-after fantasy, but a non-fictional gritty reality. He was imprisoned and beheaded, yet he prepared the way for God’s coming in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. One who proclaimed the nearness of God’s kingdom in an authentic life; fully, unfailingly human, true to himself and true to his creator, who not denying, but facing into death was crucified. A crucifixion that was a prelude to resurrection. A resurrection that was a seed of a 2000-year and counting movement with a message of something greater – a never-ending love that, in the words of Paul, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Why wouldn’t anyone go out to see John?

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2 thoughts on “an Advent meditation – through imagination’s eye, going out to see John, concluded

  1. In your previous post you ended with the question “why did I even bother to go see John”. I was sad, because I thought John was worth seeing. So, reading this installment was Uplifting!! One of the reasons I always loved John was because he was true, and honest, human and REAL – all of the qualities you listed. I know I would have loved going to see John… especially if it could lead to new life for me – and me embracing ALL it can be!! Exciting right?? YES, because I believe we’ve all at some time or another envied the life that John lived and wished that we lived our life the way he lived his.Thanks Paul!

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  2. Yes, Loretta, I ended that post with that sorrowful question because – as I imagine myself in the biblical story – I believe I would have felt unfulfilled, for what John prophesied did not occur – at least not as I would have (and, I think, clearly, he) dreamed. The next post – “…going out to see John, concluded”, I wrote from the standpoint of my life today in the here and now, looking back at John and making a case for why one would go out to see. An aspect of how I process, indeed, how I think is to look at as many angles, facets, sides – both dark and light – of a thing in order to come to a place (which, of course, if or when I think about it again, can change).

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