Message from Errol Gray
Dear Wonderful Father, Brother Jesus, Beautiful Spirit,
Our Cyril must find R500 billion to fill the gaps manifested by Corona. In this letter I’m thinking of the gaps exposed by, not created by Corona. Gaps that were created long ago by the sort of society I have comfortably lived in all this time; gaps I chose not to really notice; economic, racial, religious, privilege… “us” and “them” gaps of every kind.
And now due to forced “lockdown” separation and also feeling rather powerless against something which threatens the things that make life comfortable and life itself and also the pictures of desperate people on TV, I’m feeling and noticing more clearly the “us” and “them” gaps and all the pain and hardship they bring to humanity.
Separation is horrible. Feeling cut off is fearful. I think of your cry from the cross Brother Jesus and know that you know about this, only too well. In every whichway our technology allows, we try to stay in contact with each other, to hear each other’s voices and see each other’s faces…and a lot of the time we remind each other not to lose contact with You. (Which is partly what this letter is about.)
So in these times of radical separation, when I think of You, I realise all the more that what makes you special as “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, is your togetherness more than your separateness; I’m learning that your separate selves can only be understood (understood is not quite the right word…I’ll have to come back to this) by reference to your oneness.
It’s not how I normally think. I normally see separateness or distinctiveness first and then wonder if there are perhaps any connections. Thinking of Your distinctiveness as a property of Your togetherness is strange. And I’ve always struggled with that Trinitarian formula, “three in one and one in three.” It sounds like some mathematical concoction that I have to get my head around.
But since the way you are together is what defines Your separate and distinctive “selves” (“I and my Father are one.” “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”… I remember), then I think that my heart will understand what this means, better than my head. My heart “gets”, even when it doesn’t fully understand, the extent of what togetherness is. My head analyses and categorises which is helpful, but it alienates as it does so. Without good awareness on my part, it helps to create gaps.
So my head and my heart are better when working together. Come to think of it, when writing to You in this reflective way, it appears that “together” can’t stay out of the lines?! J
But Corona has demonstrated how untogether our society is. And it’s made me see how comfortable I have got with this. And it’s helped me to recognize again how in Your whole life on Earth, You lived across the separating gaps as if they didn’t exist – even though to everyone else they were obvious and in many cases fiercely defended.
And of course the gaps meant nothing to you because You live and breathe the relational togetherness of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So no wonder that when you came into our sinful situation you were very disruptive. I’m thinking for instance of how utterly astonished the disciples were to find You having a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John’s 4th chapter. Or the way you went in like a whirlwind to restore the Temple, your Father’s House of Prayer, to its purpose.
When Paul spoke of God as the One “in whom we live and move and have our being” in Acts 17, I see again how far my “way of being” still is from yours. But I so much want to live and breathe the gapless togetherness that is your way of being.
Which brings me to the purpose of this letter. I have a question and as usual, a cry for help. It’s this.
How should I be using this time so that, when Cyril’s R500 billion has been spent and Corona finally no longer frightens us behind locked doors, I can go back into society as a gap reducer, not a gap reinforcer?
This I know already.
My ego-derived sense of who I am, is largely maintained out of favourable and unfavourable comparisons with others; what makes me me, is that I am not who the other person is. Often the comparisons make me anxious and defensive. So my ego defaults to constructing gaps. Thus it has been a welcome and wonderful discovery, that in meditation and contemplative prayer my ego-constructed self gives way to the experience of oneness with You and with others and in fact with everything. Which brings me slowly but surely out of the unreality of the ego’s world and into the Reality of Yours.
So I will definitely continue with this and do more.
I have also noticed that when I read the bible through the eyes of my ego, I get that sort of “tribal” attitude as Richard Rohr puts it. In this mode the words of the bible can be made to emphasise how right and righteous “we” are and how wrong and uninformed all the others are who do not practice faith as we do and do not frame their belief in the way we do. Just as You found it between Samaritans and Jews when You came. But now, by grace, during quiet, unsighted prayer, my ego-led bible interpretations lose traction, and I hear Jesus say – “you have heard that it is said, but I say to you…”; stop the unthinking, often repeated, self-justifying, gap-creating views your ego wants to hear and which you too easily pass on. Listen again, like Elijah did, for “the still small voice of God,” and you will be freed to actually see what you haven’t seen before and to see who you haven’t noticed before… and you’ll find yourself free to love in a way you didn’t think possible before.
So I will continue to read the bible and at the same time be attentive and available for your unobtrusive, “still small voice”, so that the words of the bible may reach my heart as truly “the Word of God.” And I’ll do it more.
But I know I am still missing something. Many things.
So again I ask; help me to open my eyes, let me see what I must do differently and how I must be different so that when I go back into society again, I will start to close, not promote the gaps.
Your hopeless/hopeful participant in Oneness…