Friday, November 12, 2010

The language of transformation

This morning I picked up a book that had been in storage for several years, and quickly remembered why it was one of the voices that shaped my thinking and ricocheted me into a journey different than the one I had imagined.

In his preface to Christ of the Indian Road, E. Stanly Jones wrote: "I do not make a special drive upon you because you are the neediest people of our race, but because you are a member of our race. I am convinced that the only kind of a world worth having is a world patterned after the mind and spirit of Jesus. I am therefore making a drive upon the world as it is, in behalf of the world as it ought to be, and as you are a part of that world, I come to you."

There is plenty of conversation today about the relationship, or lack thereof, between what was Christendom and the movement that Jesus initiated. I will not add to that here.

For most of thirty years Europe has been my primary life focus, and I must admit that living in Paris was wonderful. But my reason for being there had little to do with the remnants of the institution and everything to do with this same idea: that the revolutionary ideas of Jesus, originating not in the West nor in economic or political discussions, show us glimpses of the world as it ought to be, and invite us into it as a reality breaking into what we live right now.

Is that the language of idealists, or of artists? It is certainly a perspective that moves us away from judging and imposing, towards listening and inviting, discovering and celebrating.

In every place, no matter where we are, Christ finds us on our road. He wants to make us human again.
The illusion wanes, and in time we return
to our noisy cities where the blue
appears only in fragments
high up among the towering shapes.
Then rain leaching the earth.
Tedious, winter burdens the roofs,
and light is a miser, the soul bitter.
Yet, one day through an open gate,
among the green luxuriance of a yard,
the yellow lemons fire
and the heart melts,
and golden songs pour
into the breast
from the raised cornets of the sun.

from "The Lemon Trees"
by Eugenio Montale
(Translated by Lee Gerlach)