I made it to Orange County. The hotel is filling up with the clergy of churches from Arizona to Alaska. Lots of hugs. Lots of how’s it going? One such greeting got me thinking.
When I asked how the Church he serves is doing, this clergyman responded with a knowing nod, “Well, you know, the devil never sleeps.” I don’t know, so I smiled knowingly but said nothing.
It seems to me that, while the devil never sleeps, the Holy Spirit also never sleeps. I guess it depends a great deal on what one is looking for. “Where sin abounds,” St. Paul said, “there does Grace much more abound.” Or as I sometimes put it (albeit often with more earthly language), where the manure is piled highest, the garden grows best.
A monk friend of mine shared with me some of the principles that his spiritual father taught him. The first principle is: life sucks. What he meant by that is that so long as we are looking for justice, equity, fairness, health, faithfulness or love in this world, we will be disappointed. This disappointment is the manure.
However, where sin abounds…. When human beings are faithless, God is faithful. Where life is unfair, God’s Grace is abundant. Joy is found in sorrow, Bright Sorrow it is often called in the Church. Mercy is found where you don’t expect it. It all depends on what you are looking for, because once you accept that the bad news (often terribly bad news) is kind of like backgrond noise, then you see the Good News shining brightly through. The bright flowers of Grace and fruit of Life growing in the parts of the garden most fertilized by death.
We live in a broken world, a broken world inhabited by broken people, broken people made in the image of God, broken people who can still shine with the Grace of the Holy Spirit when you least expect it. It all depends on what you are looking for.